Private field hospital built in Limpopo to cope with rising Covid-19 infections

Health department expresses concern about alarming rise in cases

Private health-care group Netcare has built a field hospital to create additional capacity for emergency patients at Netcare Pholoso Hospital in Limpopo. Stock photo.
Private health-care group Netcare has built a field hospital to create additional capacity for emergency patients at Netcare Pholoso Hospital in Limpopo. Stock photo.
Image: Tyler Olson/123RF.com

Private health-care group Netcare has built a field hospital to create more capacity for emergency patients at Pholoso Hospital in Limpopo due to a sharp rise in Covid-19  admissions.

“No health-care system in the world is designed for so many people requiring hospitalisation at the same time, as has been experienced during this global pandemic,”  said Netcare CEO Dr Richard Friedland.

“In many parts of our country, the second wave of Covid-19 is already considerably worse than the initial wave and this is reflected in hospital admission rates.”

Friedland said in the last week the number of people requiring hospitalisation had  escalated quickly in communities served by Netcare Pholoso Hospital in Polokwane.

“Netcare is therefore making additional technical and disaster management resources available to establish a field hospital, which can accommodate up to 80 additional beds, and is expected to be ready to receive patients from Thursday,” he said.

Friedland said even before Covid-19 reached SA, Netcare’s highly experienced disaster management team started working on plans to maximise health-care capacity in preparation for the expected surge.

“Drawing on experience in setting up and operating field hospitals in response to international disasters and for major events, such as the Comrades Marathon every year for the past two decades, Netcare is working to rapidly establish a temporary facility as an extension to the emergency department at Netcare Pholoso Hospital,” he said.

“This clinical decision unit will provide additional capacity for emergency patients until they can be transferred to a suitable unit with an available bed, either within Netcare Pholoso Hospital or at another facility.

“The aim is to make the most efficient use of available resources to help the greatest possible number of people in these extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances.”

The field hospital was sanctioned by the Limpopo department of health and is fully compliant with requirements for such a facility.

“We must reiterate the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation within our country, as reflected in the need for us to set up field hospitals such as this. Every person has an individual and collective responsibility to help prevent the spread of the virus, which has already taken an enormous human toll, in order to reduce pressure on the health-care system,” Friedland said.

SowetanLIVE reported on Wednesday that patient admissions to Netcare hospitals in the Western Cape were starting to stabilise and were decreasing in the Eastern Cape.

But the group is preparing for an “alarming” increase in admissions in Gauteng and elsewhere in the country.

To cope with the expected surge in cases in Gauteng, the group had recalled staff from leave and acquired more equipment.

Limpopo's health department has expressed concern about the alarming number of people who are getting infected with Covid-19 in the province.

Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba said on Thursday that at one point in December, the province recorded 20 new cases a day. By Wednesday the figure had rocketed to 1,575 new infections a day.

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