The faces of Livingstone Hospital
Often it is the porter, the mortuary worker or even the switchboard clerk quietly risking their lives as the Covid-19 pandemic spirals, but they have remained faceless as they are passed in the passages day in and day out, without anyone stopping to ask their names.
It was for this reason that two state doctors, a married couple, decided to launch the Facebook page “Faces of Livingstone Hospital” — and the response has been overwhelming.
The award-winning young doctor, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she and her husband were inspired by the Humans of New York photo-blog — a book of street portraits and interviews with ordinary people on the streets of New York City.
The doctor said she had been stationed in the hospital’s Covid-19 ward towards the end of March — the start of the pandemic in SA — when The Herald asked to interview the nurses and doctors considered to be the front-line workers.
“Doctors and nurses, but especially doctors, get a lot of recognition for the work we do,” she said.
“But it is the work of the people dishing up the food, fetching corpses, ensuring the laundry is done and taking specimens to the lab that is integral to the running of the hospital.”
She had therefore wanted her page, which already has about 1,000 followers, to be about “the people you see in the passages but whose names you do not know”.
It had also become an opportunity for her and her colleagues to learn more about each other’s jobs.
“I did not want it to be about the vascular surgeon or the hand surgeon or the plastic surgeon.
“I wanted it to be about the ordinary people that keep the hospital going and its wheels turning.”
In late March, while the pandemic was still new, there had been a lot of tension and unease in the hospital and that was why she and her husband decided to try to lift spirits.
“I wanted people to recognise that everyone has an important part to play.
“I wanted people to feel like we are a community.”
She said staff at institutions such as Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals in Cape Town carried a lot of institutional pride, and she wanted that for her colleagues at Livingstone.
“I wanted that for us — a sense of community.
“Some people have been working here for 40 years.
“There must be a reason they have worked here for such a long time.
“It can’t just be about the pay cheque.”
The husband and wife, who work in different departments, then came up with a list of people to interview — faces they recognised but did not necessarily know or had not interacted with before.
They were pleasantly surprised to discover that some of these people carried Masters degrees or had been working in the same job for four decades.
These were the same people with whom they would never otherwise have interacted.
“It has actually been a really wonderful journey of discovery,” she said.
These are just some of those extraordinary people:
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