Innova News

Frances Moteka shares her experiences working as a nurse in quarantine sites

As the rate of the COVID-19 infection continues to rise in South Africa , healthcare workers continue to face multiple challenges. Sister Frances Moteka shares her personal experiences working in Johannesburg COVID-19 quarantine sites, and the importance of complying with the national lockdown regulations.   


 How did you feel when you were hired to work within a quarantine site, considering the current challenges     and fears surrounding the virus ?


  • I was excited to venture into something different as a versatile nurse who has worked in different nursing disciplines, namely; theatre, ICU, Aviation medicine, education and management. I had to do infection prevention and control research in order to pass 3rd year in nursing, so my excitement was based on being able to put my IPC research into practice and be able to assist in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.


What would you say is the most challenging thing about working in a quarantine site?


  • Difficult, impossible, rude & abusive patients. Before patients arrive on-site, they are well aware of having to stay in quarantine for a period of 14 days, however some expect us to amend the rules and regulations to suit them. When they do not receive the treatment they expect, they slander us with verbal words and call us all sorts of names.


How has your hospital work experience helped you in working in quarantine? Would you say it is more challenging?


  • Having worked at the hospital, you know that the most important person is your patient. One has to carry out the key practices of being a good listener, being selfless and compassionate. Therefore, this was the application I had to apply at the site. The only difference would be that you have patients who are not bed-ridden. This becomes difficult at times, as you have patients who forget that they are supposed to follow protocol as stipulated by the government. Patients feel entitled, they are disrespectful and are very argumentative as compared to the hospital where patients are more respectful and humble.


What are some of the challenges that you as a healthcare worker experience within these sites? How do you overcome them?


  • A quarantine job is difficult, but requires a person who is strong, firm, courageous and fearless and someone who stands their ground, yet at the same time you need to be loving, sympathetic and always go beyond the call of duty. Having to sleep with one eye open has also been a challenge, as you never know when you will get a 2 am call from a patient who is sick; or when you have an ambulance come in at 4 am returning a patient to site from the hospital – so basically having a 24/7 job.


How did you handle leaving your family at home and potentially putting them at risk when you came back?


  • Well, it was slightly difficult knowing I’ll be away from home, however I must say we are a strong and resilient family. My family is understanding and know that I have to bring the bread home, and I guess what eases the difficulty is us communicating on a daily basis. As for putting them at risk, we know that I am responsible for protecting myself as they should too at home. I inform them when I do a test right before the 14 days of quarantine are over, and inform them of my results which gives them the green light to be able to pick me up. So yes, it is difficult to be apart and alone, however we are in this together.


As a healthcare worker, what is something you wish you could tell the citizens of South Africa about COVID-19 and the national lockdown?


  • This pandemic is not a joke. We NEED to take this seriously and people should comply with the government regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us decrease the exponential curve together as government cannot do it on its own. Citizens of South Africa, stay home, wear your mask, wash your hands, practice cough etiquette and keep social distancing. Monitor yourself for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and if there’s a need, isolate yourself and contact your healthcare professional. Prevention is better than cure! 

Young CEO aims to grow quality healthcare in leaps and bounds

Bandile Mathandela has hit the ground running after he took over Aurum Innova which runs 25 quarantine sites in Johannesburg.

These sites have seen about 5,500 people placed there.

Since mid-April, just days after the lockdown came into effect, the national department of health and Aurum Innova entered into a joint venture to ensure the health and wellness of repatriated South Africans, healthcare workers and hotel staff during the recommended 14-day period of isolation for patients.

“All healthcare workers deployed at any of these quarantine sites were also required to stay for the full 14-day period to prevent any form of transmission and to ensure repatriates have access to medical care at any given time,” said Mathandela.

Mathandela, 30, took up his new CEO role on July 1.

Mathandela previously held the position of chief operating officer and formed part of the executive as well as the board of directors.

Aurum Innova is a young, dynamic and vibrant company specialising in innovative healthcare.

“This includes the day-to-day of saving lives through mobile TB and HIV screening, medical surveillance and community mobilisation.

“My job also entails playing an integral role in combating Covid-19, providing screening services at department of health offices and forensic chemistry labs in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban,” Mathandela said.

Furthermore, Aurum Innova has been providing risk assessment, clinical screening and medical support services at quarantine sites in the country.

Mathandela was born in Mount Fletcher, a small town in the Eastern Cape.

“I faced numerous challenges growing up and often found myself moving from town to town as my mother struggled to make ends meet and I fought to go to school, so I could give her a better life,” said Mathandela.

He said his parents divorced when he was eight years old.

“In 2001, I moved to Johannesburg, but I came for soccer and was just 11. I pushed and matriculated in 2007, at Sir Pierre van Ryneveld High School in Kempton Park. I knew I was closer to achieving my dreams,” he said.

Mathandela said he was committed to making his life a success from a very young age, watching his mother determined to raise him together with nine of his siblings.

“Things began to materialise when I graduated at Wits University and Wits Business School with a bachelor of commerce degree and postgraduate diploma in management, respectively,” he said.

He said he continued to pursue his dream of making an impact in the world by entering the corporate world and continuing to grow with each company.

Mathandela has experience in several industries and across sectors through his entrepreneurial ventures as well as professional career.

“I have acquired skills and experience in growth strategies, SME [small medium enterprises] development, investments, media, and most recently healthcare.

Mathandela said he has been providing the necessary leadership and guidance in running Aurum Innova programmes.

“My leadership was critical in forming a partnership with Vue Architects to develop and distribute the Shesha-Geza basins [sanitising basins designed to be placed in under-resourced areas to minimise the spread of the coronavirus].”

Mathandela said there are currently 15 of these units distributed in clinics on the East Rand.

As part of his role, he has been tasked with developing and overseeing Aurum Innova’s five-year growth plan and oversight over all operational and administrative matters.

“I joined Innova as a project manager in May 2019, and through dedication and hard work, I was promoted to COO,” he said.

Prior to joining the company, Mathandela worked as a consultant at Agis Holdings, forming part of a team of management consultants.

Mathandela is also a contributor on Radio 2000 on its drive time show, The Glenzito Super Drive, co-hosted by Glen Lewis and Nathi Ndamase.

He co-hosted a business talk show for Voice of Wits FM for two years, receiving a nomination for best business talk show in SA.

“I have never been afraid to be different and to pursue even the most absurd ideas. I also founded Mathandela Investments in 2012, a company I started for youth development and job creation.

“It is my long-term plan as one day I would love to use all the skills I have learnt in corporate to run my own company and grow many others regardless of where they come from,” Mathandela said.

In his spare time, Mathandela said you’ll find him reading or watching soccer.

“It’s exciting to take over as role as interim CEO of Aurum Innova. I aim to set up Aurum Innova in such a way that we help improve access to quality healthcare in South Africa, through the use of innovation and leveraging technology.”

He said he also wants to build a people-centric business that “places the interests of the communities we serve, our people and clients first.”



This article was originally published in on 07 July 2020 by Promise Marupeng.