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Netcare takes Covid-19 screening to new level after outbreak closed two hospitals

Netcare Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban. File photo: ANA/Leon Lestrade

Netcare Kingsway Hospital in Amanzimtoti, south of Durban. File photo: ANA/Leon Lestrade

Published May 14, 2020

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Durban - NETCARE has taken Covid-19 screening

to another level when it reopened two

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of its hospitals on Monday after being

closed due to a Covid-19 outbreak.

Their measures include taking the Covid-19 test at one’s own expense, and processing the results before being allowed entry.

The reopening of Netcare St Augustine’s and Kingsway hospitals also meant that Netcare needed to take extra precautions to prevent another outbreak at its facilities.

The provincial health department and Netcare Group had made a collective decision to close St Augustine’s Hospital in early April after 66 people, 48 staff and 18 patients tested positive for Covid-19.

Two weeks later, Kingsway Hospital was closed to new admissions after a patient was admitted via the emergency department with a suspected stroke, but later tested positive for the virus.

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Netcare director Dr Anchen Laubscher said the spread of Covid-19 by asymptomatic individuals remained the most significant risk they faced - and the most difficult to mitigate.

According to Laubscher, anyone wanting to enter a Netcare facility was screened daily. All health-care workers, staff, other categories of workers and contractors are required to complete the Netcare risk-assessment screening process before being allowed access.

This includes visitors, patients coming in for consultations or to the emergency department, and those going to the radiology department.

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“In addition to the screening, a decision was taken in the interest of all our patients and persons working at our facilities that all patients to be admitted to Netcare hospitals will have to go for Covid-19 testing prior to their admission, except those in need of emergency treatment, who will be assessed and categorised appropriately according to the risk they represent,” said Laubscher.

Moreover, testing through real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is required for all patients undergoing planned surgery. Such testing, she said, must be conducted at least 48 hours before the planned admission, with a mandatory quarantine before the admission.

Covid-19 negative patients will be admitted into the green zone (Covid-19 negative zone) at the appropriate level of care, while positive patients will be required to self-isolate until they have a negative test. However, if admission is necessary, the patient will be admitted into the Covid-19 positive zone (red zone).

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“Testing will also be compulsory for all emergency admissions, including emergency readmissions and urgent inter-hospital transfers. As the test results will be pending at the time of admission, such patients will be admitted to a PUI (persons under investigation) ward in the hospital’s yellow zone until the results are available. Thereafter the patients will be transferred to a green or red zone,” said Laubscher.

She said birthing partners and parents of paediatric patients would only be allowed to visit if they had been tested for the virus and were negative.

The cost of the Covid-19 test, she said, would be the responsibility of the patient or visitor. Tests start from R750 and can exceed R1 000, depending on the service provider.

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