Dr Phetho Mangena is the head of internal medicine at the Pietersburg Provincial Hospital and is currently the man in charge of the fight against Covid-19 at the hospital.
He matriculated at Pax High School in Polokwane in 1999, and went on to pursue a Bachelor of medicine, combined with a Bachelor of surgery in 2005, at the University of Cape Town where he specialised as a physician.
He sub-specialised in nephrology and completed his studies in 2013.
Mangena is ordinarily responsible for the renal unit, but since the Covid-19 pandemic, he has shifted focus to include Covid-19 patients.
“My responsibilities include setting up the Covid-19 unit, training the clinical staff and looking after Covid-19 patients.
“The hospital has renovated one of the wards into a Covid-19 unit.” Mangena says looking after Covid-19 patients includes the monitoring of symptoms.
“Covid-19 tampers with the ability of your lungs to absorb oxygen. The lungs tend to become inflamed and the patient requires steroids or drugs that will help reduce inflammation.
“This is why patients who struggle to breathe need to check into a hospital. These steroids help reduce the mortality rate.’’
The basics of a lung infection are visible in Covid-19 patients, but this strand of the virus presents with severe symptoms, he said.
“As doctors we are anxious because this is nothing we have seen before. It is highly contagious.
“We also fear the possibility of contracting the virus and infecting our families, but new research is brought to the table daily.”
Mangena says the peak for infections is yet to be reached.
“We have started on an exponential rise curve but the peak will only be here in the next three to four weeks. Every ward has the capability to test for the virus, but patients that come in due to the fear of having contracted the virus are tested in the renal unit.”
Mangena adds that the simplest way to prevent the contraction of the virus is also the cheapest method, and this is by wearing a face mask, sanitising regularly and practising social distancing.
Story: Umpha Manenzhe