Private hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal have agreed to open their hospital wards and beds, free of charge, should a large scale outbreak of the Covid-19 virus occur in the province. Picture: (Wang Yuguo/Xinhua via AP)
Private hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal have agreed to open their hospital wards and beds, free of charge, should a large scale outbreak of the Covid-19 virus occur in the province. Picture: (Wang Yuguo/Xinhua via AP)

Coronavirus in SA: KZN private hospitals pledge to offer beds and wards free of charge

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Mar 21, 2020

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Durban - Private hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal have agreed to open their hospital wards and beds, free of charge, should a large scale outbreak of the Covid-19 virus occur in the province.

It comes after nearly a dozen private healthcare service providers  met with KZN  Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

The meeting capped off a busy week in which Simelane-Zulu met with the clergy, to the diplomatic corps, organised labour, traditional leaders, the taxi industry, and media editors - with the aim of heightening awareness about coronavirus, as well as how to face up to its projected impact. 

These engagements also focused on how the virus can be prevented; its symptoms, and what those who exhibit them need to do.

According to the provincial health department, the private healthcare practitioners agreed to put the country first and lend a hand in the fight against a scourge which has led to the declaration of a National State of Disaster.

Simelane-Zulu said the partnership with the private healthcare sector was a boon to the department’s own ongoing efforts to increase capacity, as it continues to reconfigure and modify ordinary hospital wards into isolation wards throughout the province.

The MEC described the gesture as a moving display of patriotism at an unprecedented time in the history of South Africa – while also urging others to follow suit.

So far, the groups that have partnered with the department are Royal Hospital, Midlands Medical, Mediclinic, Akeso, Daymed, Netcare, Nurture, Umhlanga, Cheshire Sub-acute, Hibiscus, and Busamed.

They are due to provide a report on Wednesday detailing the exact number of beds to be made available, which are expected to run into the hundreds. 

The department will handle the human resources and, where required, the health technology (equipment) part of the partnership, said  Simelane-Zulu.

Reacting to the partnership with the private sector, Simelane-Zulu said t he intention and request had been to get them to avail beds that can be utilised by the Department of Health should the need arise. 

"I’m extremely happy, and really appreciate the spirit that those who are running private facilities have evidenced. The majority of them expressed their willingness to give us beds. They are at this point enumerating how many beds each facility will be making available, and will revert to us on Wednesday. We’re very happy with that engagement. We know that by Wednesday we’re going to have a very clear and concrete plan on how many beds are available in the private sector, and how they’re going to spread within the province of KwaZulu-Natal," she said.

“We call on all the rest of the private sector to ensure that they also play their part in assisting government to deal with this particular virus".

Simelane-Zulu said the t he beds are going to be free of charge and the department will haveside engagements in relation to the Human Resources, and equipment aspects because some of the facilities are empty, and have not been equipped. 

"So, we’re going to have discussions on how those will be staffed and equipped. But, should those be equipped by the Department of Health, the equipment will still belong to the Department. At the end of this pandemic, they will have to be returned to the facilities of the Department.  We really appreciate the sense of patriotism that the private sector is showing. It tells you that you’ve got people who understand their responsibility as businesspeople… but also to work with government, and I think that’s the most important part. Beyond this, we’ve agreed with the sector that we’re going to continue working together, so that moving forward we’re able to assist our people together,” she said.

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