Private hospital group opens temporary units for Covid surge

A nurse at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital's emergency department, Nothile Ngubeni, with colleagues Dorcus Sithole, left, and Jones Dick, hold candles in honour of those who lost their lives to Covid-19. File image.
A nurse at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital's emergency department, Nothile Ngubeni, with colleagues Dorcus Sithole, left, and Jones Dick, hold candles in honour of those who lost their lives to Covid-19. File image.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Private hospital group Netcare has opened temporary facilities in three provinces to manage increasing numbers of Covid-19 patients.

On Thursday the group said it has “under 3,000" Covid-19 positive patients in its hospitals countrywide.

To cope with demand, Netcare has in the past fortnight opened three “clinical decision units” to augment capacity in Limpopo, the North West and Gauteng for coronavirus emergency patients.

These can accommodate an additional 116 patients, said CEO Richard Friedland. A further 15 of these units have been established within its hospitals in Gauteng, where existing general wards have been converted. This comprises 214 beds.

The new temporary units were erected at Montana Hospital in Pretoria, Ferncrest Hospital in Rustenburg and Pholoso Hospital in Polokwane.

“So far our experience of the second wave suggests that the need for additional capacity in a particular area can arise sharply and suddenly,” said Friedland.

“These temporary facilities are extremely helpful in easing the burden on the emergency departments at hospitals, as patients can be stabilised in these clinical decision units before they are admitted for hospitalisation, if required

“These units have assisted a combined total of nearly 400 patients since opening during the second week of January.”

Hotspots

In the Eastern Cape, Netcare facilities continue to see a decline in Covid-19 admissions, and in the Western Cape the numbers appear to be stabilising.

In KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Gauteng, however, Netcare is “still seeing very high numbers of patients admitted with Covid-19".

“We hope that we have reached a peak and that we will start to see the numbers in these areas plateau soon,” Friedland said.

He cautioned, however: “Though the number of Covid-19 admissions or positive test results appear to be plateauing, or showing early hopeful signs of slowing down in some areas, it is important to understand that we are far from being out of the woods yet.”

Critical care units remain under pressure

“While these temporary facilities are helpful in coping with a surge of Covid-19 emergency admissions, critical care units in many of our hospitals remain under enormous pressure, even though we have increased the capacity of these highly specialised units,” Friedland said.

“The disease burden from before the pandemic has not disappeared, and in fact we have unfortunately noted that people with pre-existing health conditions who have been avoiding health care out of fear of Covid-19 are now requiring higher levels of care than would ordinarily have been expected.”

Resumption of non-urgent elective surgery in Netcare hospitals will be dependent on the course of the pandemic, and may be done in stages, such as at different times in different regions, as Covid-19 cases in certain regions decrease, he said.

TimesLIVE


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