Hospitals are facing a bed shortage crisis as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
Hospitals are facing a bed shortage crisis as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

KZN hospitals running out of beds as Covid-19 infections spike

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Dec 29, 2020

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Durban - Hospitals are facing a bed shortage crisis as Covid-19 infections continue to rise in KwaZulu-Natal.

Over the weekend, the South African Private Ambulance & Emergency Services Association (SAPAESA) said there was a severe shortage of hospital beds in private and public hospitals.

“If South Africans do not act responsibly in order to protect themselves against Covid-19 infections, hospital beds will run out completely and the death rate will rise significantly,” said SAPAESA.

A paramedic working in Durban said there were no beds, an issue they were dealing with on a daily basis.

“This weekend we were phoning hospitals in Bloemfontein to try to accept patients.

“Every single ambulance in Durban was just swamped. We can’t find beds.”

The paramedic said on Monday, people were being attended to outside in tents and were waiting for hours outside hospitals for beds.

“Hospitals were trying their best, but they also asked where are all the field hospitals that were supposed to be set up. Paramedics are struggling.”

Life Healthcare’s east coast regional manager Greg Swale said they had noted a significant increase in Covid-19 cases in KZN.

“At local hospital levels, we are making adjustments to bed allocations, but additional capacity is limited. This is in response to the increasing demands placed on all hospitals in KZN. Increased admission times are experienced, but we are attending to our patients as efficiently as possible.”

He said there was an increased demand in intensive and high care.

“Bed capacity is under pressure, but we monitor the situation on a daily basis.”

Netcare CEO Dr Richard Friedland said the recent surge of cases, particularly in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape and KZN placed a significant and unprecedented demand on the company’s healthcare facilities.

“We expect this demand to continue in Limpopo and the Western Cape for at least the next two weeks, but unfortunately to increase in KZN over the same period.”

He said in those provinces, the number of patients admitted to hospital far exceeded what was experienced in the first wave of the pandemic.

Joint Medical Holdings (JMH) group general manager Vishnu Rampartab said the biggest challenge was the availability of resources.

“We have, due to rapid increase in infections in the KZN area, and the demand for beds, taken the decision to defer elective cases so that the resources available could be redirected to patients requiring emergency care.

“We have at this stage reached our capacity. Bed capacity is being monitored throughout the day to ensure that when beds do become available, patients requiring urgent admission can be accommodated.”

Public Servants Association of SA KZN provincial manager Mlungisi Ndlovu said they received reports of bed shortages mainly in Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital, Addington Hospital and King Edward VIII Hospital.

“The number of patients increased during the festive season. As a result, Mshiyeni does not have space for ambulances to bring in patients, it’s full.”

Last week, Premier Sihle Zikalala said the Department of Health had prepared 3 367 beds in public health facilities in response to the second wave, of which 147 were for the ICU.

The department had not commented at the time of publication.

Daily News

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