Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Gratitude Concert for Healthcare Workers
At the foot of Table Mountain, against the backdrop of the iconic former main building of Groote Schuur Hospital, stood the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) of 48 musicians as they prepared to perform for their first outdoor audience in nearly two years.
The occasion was the Concert of Gratitude, a tribute from CPO, Western Cape Department of Health (DoH), Groote Schuur Hospital and Hospital Heroes, to frontline healthcare and healthcare workers in Africa. South and, more broadly, healthcare workers around the world for risking their lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The concert took place during the staff lunch hour on Wednesday September 15, in the palm grove of the hospital. The staff, many of whom come from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town (UCT), were invited to take an hour to relax and enjoy the tribute paid by the world-class symphony orchestra. Those who couldn’t leave their desks or departments could hear the music roam the halls of the hospital or were able to stream the show live on CPO’s YouTube page.
As well as paying tribute to those who, after 18 months of frontline work, continue to give their all for the public, the concert was also a moment to honor and remember the 193 Western Cape healthcare workers who died during the pandemic.
“We are sad, indeed, of the pandemic [that] has cost the lives and livelihoods of so many, ”said Louis Heyneman, Director General of CPO.
“We are, however, so grateful that, thanks to hospital staff across the Western Cape in particular, we are still here. The concert of joyful and inspiring music is a celebration of life, a tribute to health workers and a mark of our deep gratitude. “
Western Cape Provincial Health Minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo was also present and expressed gratitude for the performance, but also reflected on the exhaustion experienced by healthcare workers.
“We never came home; we’ve always worked… We don’t want a fourth wave because we as caregivers are tired; we’ve been working all along.
Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital, said the hospital was “extremely grateful” and honored by the performance of the CPO. She added that at the time of the performance there were 143 COVID-19 patients in the hospital – less than half of what they had seen two weeks ago.
“So this honor is not just for the staff of Groote Schuur, but for all health workers nationally and internationally who volunteer and dedicate their lives to the service of others. “
One of those healthcare workers is Dr Abhaya Karki, UCT Senior Registrar of Family Medicine and a member of the team that built Hope Hospital from scratch in 2020.
The staff were invited to take the time to relax and appreciate the tribute paid by the world-class symphony orchestra.
He was encouraged to attend the CPO performance by his colleagues who “ran” in excitement to hear the tribute. Karki praised the gesture.
“People are motivated… It’s really stimulating, especially for the staff and for the patients who can hear it from the wards.
As to the current state of affairs since vaccinations were extended to over 18s, Karki noted that “there is still a lot of misinformation and misinformation about the vaccine.”
“So we are seeing people who are not vaccinated, who are really, really sick,” he said.
Fortunately, Karki drew hope from a recent visit to the pharmacy where many young people were lining up for their injections.
He added that since receiving his vaccines as a health worker, staff feel much safer to work in the wards, compared to the experience of the first and second waves.