South Africa: Private hoteliers to provide free accommodation for health care workers as they battle Covid-19
London, May 29, 2020 (AltAfrica)-As South Africa’s health system braces for the peak of coronavirus, a new initiative that aims to offer public health worker free accommodation, so that they mitigate infecting their families with the virus, has swung into action.
Called Ubuntu Beds, the initiative will see public health workers access to private accommodation – mostly hotels and other accommodation facilities that have been closed due to the lockdown regulation for free.
The basis for the initiative is that as the South African healthcare system prepares for the peak of Covid-19, healthcare workers will run the risk of infecting their families and others while travelling to and from work.
The initiative was founded by hotel owner Kim Whitaker who herself contracted the virus in March, with the aim of uniting the hospitality businesses that now stand empty with healthcare workers.
Ubuntu Beds, with the support of the FirstRand SPIRE fund, hopes to raise enough funding through private donations and corporate sponsorship to accommodate up to 2500 public healthcare workers over the next four months.
To date, 869 establishments with approximately 15 000 plus rooms situated across the country, close to hospitals and clinics, have signed up to the platform. The average stay is between 7 and 14 days and is open to both the private and public healthcare sector.
Healthcare workers have access to self-catering facilities and in some instances Wi-Fi, TV, and laundry services.
“The spirit of Ubuntu has been particularly prevalent amongst South Africans during this time,” Whitaker said.
“Ubuntu Beds has given us a way to show our gratitude to the healthcare heroes while supporting local tourism businesses. By offering accommodation it means they can keep their doors open and most importantly retain their staff. Since launching we’ve been able to place 59 doctors and nurses. The peak is coming and we are doing everything we can to help the healthcare sector prepare. Our goal is to raise R16 million to ensure our healthcare workers are taken care of,” she said.
Cleanliness is of utmost importance, according to Whitaker and all accommodation providers need to adhere to a cleaning guideline developed by Ubuntu Beds, based on the guidelines set out by the Department of Health for self-isolation and self-quarantine accommodation.
Specialist cleaning companies do a deep clean post-stay, which includes a Covid-19 fog, to ensure no cross-contamination occurs.
Healthcare workers are aware of the risks, and scrub-off and scrub-on between the hospital and the accommodation.
As a key supporting partner to Ubuntu Beds, Jessica Spira, Sector Director for Healthcare and Hospitality at Rand Merchant Bank, which contributed to the SPIRE fund says: “We believe that by collaborating with Ubuntu Beds is a four-way win: health workers can be accommodated closer to their workplaces, health workers’ families are protected from being exposed, beds are filled, and job retention is improved in the hospitality and related services sectors.”