Tygerberg Hospital. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Tygerberg Hospital. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Unions red-flag Tygerberg Hospital as a hot spot for Covid-19

By Shakirah Thebus Time of article published Jun 3, 2020

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Cape Town - Fedusa and affiliated union, Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa), have red-flagged Tygerberg Hospital as a hot spot for Covid-19 outbreaks and confirmed cases involving those working in a health-care facility.

Union representatives completed preliminary inspections at the hospital on Monday.

Among several concerns raised by the unions were that those entering the facility weren't properly screened or checked, and that Covid-19 patients were not being quarantined safely and appropriately.

Riefdah Ajam, general secretary for Fedusa, said: “The situation is so dire that Fedusa believes Tygerberg Hospital will become a national test case of the Department of Employment and Labour’s ability and capacity to manage and control a volatile occupational health and safety flashpoint.

"The sad irony of this situation is that this critical institution has totally blemished South Africa's ability to move towards the realisation and implementation of a national health insurance.”

Marthenique Marinus, provincial secretary for Hospersa, said the unions have called for the closure of the hospital with immediate effect as it was not complying with the necessary health and safety regulations.

According to Marinus, some of the unions' findings from their inspection were: no screenings were conducted at the entrances of the hospital; no hand sanitisers were available upon visitation at all the entrances, including the testing site; elevators available to non-hospital members are also being used to transport corpses of confirmed Covid-19 cases; no control over visitors to the facility; no physical distancing implemented; and that porters are being used to escort Covid-19 patients and corpses.

Marinus said: “This was done previously by security officials but due to the high number of infected security officers, this service is now being rendered by the porters.”

Mark van der Heever, spokesperson for the provincial health department, said it has been in regular discussions with the unions and continues to assist in trying to address members' concerns.

“(Tygerberg Hospital) has in place a sophisticated occupational health and safety system which has been adapted and updated to deal with the staff safety challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The allegations made in the media releases are unfortunate and create the perception that staff and client safety isn’t receiving the necessary attention.

“The hospital has been busy since the start of the pandemic with the rapid (and ongoing) development and on-the-ground implementation of policies and standard operating procedures, which includes staff screening, individual risk assessment of staff, area risk assessments, identification of vulnerable staff and accommodating these vulnerable staff via flexible work arrangements.”

Tygerberg Hospital employs 4 672 staff, 296 of whom were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus and of those 144 have recovered.


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Cape Argus

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