Bara hospital has seven deaths & 540 Covid-19 infections among 6,500 staff

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto
Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

The poor quality of personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns is among the challenges workers at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto have to grapple with.

This was revealed by the head of supply chain at the hospital, Ravele Tshikalange, who spoke during a presentation to the deputy public protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, during her inspection visit to the hospital on Wednesday.

According to Tshikalange, some of the gowns they received from suppliers were not sterile, while others were short. “That is not a full PPE because it doesn't serve the full purpose of protecting the one using it,” she said.

The other challenge they had to grapple with was the moratorium put on the importing of N95 masks from the US. They now use K95 European masks, which some staff felt were not of an appropriate standard for medical facilities, as they were intended for use at construction sites. Tshikalange, however, clarified that both masks had the same quality and served the same purpose.

Tshikalange said the hospital did not have a shortage of PPE. In addition, “we never found ourselves without things like sanitisers because we received a lot of donations that helped us”.

The deputy public protector was at the hospital as part of her inspections of hospitals reserved for Covid-19 patients in Gauteng. She is examining the infrastructure developed specifically for the fight against the pandemic and is looking at the capacity of facilities in the province.

Acting hospital CEO Dr Steve Mankupane said since the beginning of the pandemic, seven staff members had succumbed to the virus. He said six of the deceased had serious underlying health conditions and none of them worked in dedicated Covid-19 wards. The seventh person was not permanently employed at the hospital.

Mankupane said so far 540 employees had tested positive for the virus and 39 are in isolation. The hospital has more than 6,500 employees.


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