KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu. Picture: Supplied
KZN Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu. Picture: Supplied

KZN MEC outlines plans to beef up hospital bed capacity

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Dec 30, 2020

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Durban - Two of KwaZulu-Natal's field hospitals are operational while a third is expected to be functional within the next few weeks.

According to KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, General Gizenga and Ngwelezane hospitals, which were completed in September, were operational.

Speaking during a Zoom briefing on Wednesday, the MEC said challenges with oxygen infrastructure at the field hospital in Ngwelezane would be resolved soon.

“The Royal Show grounds, which will give us 254 beds, is being recommissioned and is expected to be functional in the next two weeks," she said.

Simelane-Zulu explained 22 Community Health Centres (CHCs), which have a combined total of 144 beds, would be re-purposed.

Picture: KZN Dept of Health

“Out of those, 30% of the beds have been re-purposed as Covid beds. These beds will be used for accommodating sick patients while waiting for transfer to the nearest hospital. In order to cope with this responsibility, CHCs have been provided with special equipment like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines, high flow nasal oxygen and rapid tests.”

On the issue of re-purposing beds in existing hospitals, the MEC said beds in various hospitals have been designated for Covid-19 to provide 455 additional beds.

“Some of these beds will be re-purposed by delaying the decommissioning of Charles James and Don Mckenzie hospitals. However, these facilities will require additional human resources and equipment, something that we have been working on. New staff will be on site at these facilities, as of January 1," Simelane-Zulu said.

She said a multi-disciplinary provincial Covid-19 clinical protocol steering committee team was appointed.

This team, Simelane-Zulu said, has drawn up various clinical protocols and patient care management plans, which were meant to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus.

A special nurse training programme has also been conducted for professional nurses who were allocated to the high care units to counter the shortage of critical care trained nurses in the province.

“All 73 hospitals and 22 CHCs of the province have been allocated with CPAP devices to beef up capacity for respiratory support for patients especially at lower levels of care. Capacity building has been provided by regional and tertiary hospitals through virtual training and telephonic support for clinical management of patients and indications for appropriate use of respiratory devices,” the MEC said.

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