Why KZN Health believes PMB's Grey's Hospital is best placed to fight coronavirus
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Durban - DUE TO its previous experience in handling Ebola virus cases, and other factors, Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg will be KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) preferred institution to handle any possible coronavirus cases in the province, instead of Addington Hospital in Durban.
The decision comes after Nomakiki Majola, chairperson of the KZN health portfolio committee, visited both hospitals to make an informed choice.
On Tuesday, Majola said after a meeting with the Department of Health and members of the executive, they had decided that Grey’s was ideal because there was a plan in place for the issues they had previously identified.
Majola said the concerns were the divisions of the hospital structure which should be closed, because they were taking an approach based on the virus being airborne.
“Grey’s is now ideal. Addington has a proper unit, but Grey’s has been identified because it is central and previously it had managed the Ebola virus,” Majola said.
She said they had taken into account receiving a patient, the disposal of items from the ward and other necessities.
“We will also talk to district hospitals and clinics when it comes to transferring patients who might have the virus,” she said.
However, the DA’s spokesperson on health, Dr Rishigen Viranna, said Addington, which had a specially-built isolation ward with eight beds, was the better choice.
“It is this hospital that should be at the forefront of treating any suspected patients, while Grey’s, Ngwelezane and Manguzi hospitals remain secondary centres of care,” Viranna said.
“Logistically, Addington is also much closer to King Shaka International Airport.”
He said the World Health Organisation had said coronavirus patients would likely arrive via air and it would be quicker to transport suspected cases to Addington than to the other hospitals. Grey’s and Addington hospitals were prepared with protective personnel equipment, staffing and isolation rooms.
Viranna said the other hospitals would have to use their own current budgets to deal with the virus. He said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg was currently the only accredited testing centre in South Africa.
“Currently, there are delays in couriering samples to and from Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg. This must be rectified and the DA calls on the department to urgently introduce a service level agreement with a medical courier or with the National Health Laboratory Service to ensure the speedy transfer of samples,” Viranna said.
More than 1000 coronavirus deaths have been reported and over 40000 confirmed cases. There are no confirmed cases in South Africa.
The Health Department had not commented at the time of publication.