Netcare hospital division managing director Jacques du Plessis said Netcare’s hospitals had bulk liquid oxygen supply tanks, as well as oxygen cylinders as a back-up. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)
Netcare hospital division managing director Jacques du Plessis said Netcare’s hospitals had bulk liquid oxygen supply tanks, as well as oxygen cylinders as a back-up. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

SA hospital groups ready for a surge in Covid cases

By Banele Ginindza Time of article published Jun 21, 2021

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SOUTH African hospital groups said on Friday that strenuous measures, including more capacity for oxygen storage, capacity training of staff, satellite treatment centres and increased bed space, have been taken to cope with the latest Covid-19 outbreak.

Netcare hospital division managing director Jacques du Plessis said Netcare’s hospitals had bulk liquid oxygen supply tanks, as well as oxygen cylinders as a back-up.

“We have invested in increasing bulk supply tanks as one of several strategies to ensure sufficient continuous oxygen supply for patients. As a further safeguard, 1 400 oxygen concentrators were procured to draw oxygen from the air to bolster supply, if needed,” he said.

The group, which recently reported lacklustre financial results because of the previous two Covid-19 outbreaks, said earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation declined to R2.1 billion, while adjusted headlines earnings per share took a dip to 47.6 cents.

“Although the situation remains fluid, at present our facilities in Gauteng are under pressure, while Netcare facilities in all other provinces remain on high alert, but for now have not yet seen a surge in Covid-19 admissions,” the group said of the latest outbreak.

Mediclinic’s corporate communications manager, Tertia Kruger, said there was a very strong demand for hospital beds during the current third wave, impacting Gauteng, Free State and the Northern Cape, in particular, with increasing requirements for care in Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.

“This demand is being experienced across much of the industry as a result of the increase in patient numbers and severity of patients’ condition, and is expected to continue in coming weeks. It is important to note that while ICU and high-care capacity may vary from hospital to hospital, depending on the number of licensed beds, not all Covid-19 patients require ICU care or mechanical ventilation,” said Kruger.

She said many admitted patients were treated successfully with supplemental oxygen and other supportive treatment modalities, and Mediclinic has capacity within these medical wards to assist patients in this manner.

“Hospital bed capacity remains fluid, and this dynamic situation is continuously monitored and addressed. Where possible, measures are also in place to further increase our capacity through reallocation of nonCovid-19 units, as well as ensuring that oxygen capacity is there to support the needs for supplemental oxygen in our wards. Where the surge is being experienced differently between our regions, we are able to move equipment, such as ventilators, to areas under pressure, and key resources such as oxygen availability are constantly being monitored,” she said.

The South African Medical Association (Sama), a coalition of health organisations, said it was concerned that a small fraction of the world’s population had been vaccinated to date, hence it was engaging at the political level for an accelerated rollout of vaccines.

Sama’s head of public relations and communications, Dr Simonia Magardie, said because only 2 percent of the population in low- and middle-income countries had been vaccinated, it fully supported the global initiative by the South African and the Indian governments for a temporary waiver of the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights to increase global access to vaccines.

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