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Michael Vonk, CEO of George Hospital, is impressed and grateful for the spontaneous response by 34 Groenkloof ladies to a call for masks for the George Hospital. They have made 6 000 masks so far, of which 4 700 have been donated to the George Hospital.


Vonk visited the retirement village recently to receive the latest in a series of mask donations by the women, who have been dubbed the Groenkloof Masketeers. They had responded to an advertisement placed by occupational therapist Des van der Vyver on behalf of the hospital asking for donations, which prompted the Masks for George initiative. Vonk, the driving force behind the initiative, says it was refreshing and encouraging for him during the difficult Covid-19 period to see people taking charge of a challenging situation "without the need to form a committee".


It happened at the time when Italy was front-page news as large numbers of front-line workers succumbed to the virus. Vonk said what motivated him was the thought of families having to decide between a loaf of bread for their hungry children and a mask. The first batch of 700 masks from the Masketeers was for the front-line workers in the hospital. Thereafter, they continued sewing masks so that each patient admitted to hospital could be given one. More than 4 700 masks went to George Hospital.


Cheryll van Zyl, on behalf of the Masketeers, handed over the latest batch during Vonk's visit. Says Van Zyl, "It was such a highlight to at last meet my counterpart personally. The go-between was mostly Jan Bosch from Earl's Court, who also supplied material donated to the cause."  Groenkloof residents adhere to protocols Dr Willem Schoombie, representing the Groenkloof Woods residents, said the inhabitants were blessed to have remained coronavirus free. The more than 1 100 members of the larger Groenkloof family in George have responded to the protocols put in place by management and the Groenkloof Coronavirus Task Group in a responsible manner.


Vonk said that up to 350 people per day are currently using the Viral Testing Unit at George Hospital. The service is free and the turnaround time to get a result is now down to two or three days, due to samples being processed in Cape Town. He gave the assurance that they currently have sufficient space for patients testing positive. High-flow nasal oxygen is contributing to the successful treatment of patients. The latest research indicates that front-line workers exposed to the virus may safely return to work after self-isolating for eight days.


The proceedings concluded with the handover of anti-bacterial silver face masks by the chairman of the George Hospital Trust, Michiel Burger, to the director of the Groenkloof Care Unit, Daniel Murray, for use by the front-line workers in Groenkloof. Van Zyl surprised everyone when she gave Vonk a cute bear, Dr Corona de Beer, alias Dr Green, in appreciation for the diligent service rendered by him and his team to the vast community of George and as far as Beaufort West.

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