Nasrec field hospital to be used to ease pressure in Gauteng: Mkhize

The CEO of Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, with health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
The CEO of Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Dr Mathabo Mathebula, with health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Gauteng health MEC Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
Image: Twitter: @DrZweliMkhize

The Nasrec field hospital will be used to ease the pressure in Gauteng as the province continues to see an increase in patients who require hospitalisation because of Covid-19 complications.

This is according to health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who was on an oversight visit in the province.

Mkhize said there was an agreement in place already with all hospitals in the province that once they start seeing an increase in patients needing hospitalisation, those who don’t need ICU should be transferred to the 4,000-bed field hospital.

The minister said hospitals need to expedite the use of antigen rapid tests to shorten further the waiting time of patients who need to be admitted but are still under investigation and awaiting Covid-19 test results.

“It’s important that we deal with the speed that patients are moved away from observation wards,” he said.

Mkhize visited the Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital in Johannesburg and Steve Biko and Tshwane district hospitals in Pretoria.

The health minister expressed satisfaction with what he found at the hospitals and said it showed that health workers were prepared and knew what they were doing.

Two weeks ago, Steve Biko academic hospital was under pressure, running out of space to accommodate patients. Pictures emerged on social media showing patients in tents.

“We’ve come to this Steve Biko and Tshwane district to give support to the team, also to take a look at what the issues are because there have been reports that there are no beds at all. The hospital is not full yet, but what happens is that delays get to be here, at the point of triage, so from that perspective we then want to get a sense of how that matter is being handled,” Mkhize said.

He said he was satisfied with the work that has been put in place to address that challenge.

“The triage system is well in place now, the experience of dealing with Covid-19 is also well in place,” he said.

Mkhize commended the staff at Charlotte Maxeke for implementing the rapid tests at their emergency units and said that eased the pressure.

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize with Gladys Bogoshi , CEO of Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital (left) an Gauteng health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize with Gladys Bogoshi , CEO of Charlotte Maxeke academic hospital (left) an Gauteng health MEC, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi.
Image: Twitter: @DrZweliMkhize

He said a lot of work has been done to address the shortages at Charlotte Maxeke. About 33 nurses had been employed urgently and more interviews were held yesterday.

The CEO of Charlotte Maxeke hospital, Gladys Bogoshi, said the hospital was admitting many Covid-19 patients and was opening new Covid wards every five to seven days. She said they were receiving a lot of patients transferred from private hospitals.

The minister said staffing was important and the government should do everything it could to employ additional staff.

“The problem of exhaustion is real. This surge has hit us more because it came much faster than we expected and became worse than we expected,” Mkhize said.

He commended the health workers for their hard work and selflessness during the pandemic.

“You are the ones bearing  the brunt of the pandemic. I want to express my sincerest gratitude for the work that you have done. Like loyal, dedicated soldiers, you continue to safe the lives and the nation,” he said.

Mkhize emphasised the importance of providing health workers with adequate PPE and said they are in agreement that their policy will be “no PPE, no work”.

“It’s a fundamental fight against Covid-19 at point of health services, it is a fight that will be led by health workers who are well protected and trained,” he said. “You can’t deal with an enemy that you fear. Right now we have no fear.”

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