Makhura visits Steve Biko Hospital after facility’s chaotic scenes unfold on social media
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Pretoria - Gauteng Premier David Makhura was on Monday scheduled to visit the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Tshwane which is battling an ever-increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
The hospital has been trending on social media, with photos and videos showing packed tents with patients on supplied oxygen.
On Sunday, the Gauteng department of health confirmed that several of the photographs were indeed taken at the hospital.
“The facility noted a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 patients since December 2020,” Gauteng health spokeswoman Kwara Kekana said.
An increasing number of patients “are sicker and require critical care”, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility, she said.
“Some of the patients the hospital is receiving are coming from private facilities because of lack of space, while others are self-referred from other provinces such as North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo,” Kekana added.
Early last year, the Gauteng health department converted Tshwane District Hospital into a strictly Covid-19 treating facility in partnership with Steve Biko, transforming the two popular government hospitals situated next to each other into a complex.
But Kekana said the complex was under pressure especially with regards to patients requiring specialist immediate attention who could therefore only be treated in certain hospitals.
“The Steve Biko Academic Hospital emergency unit entrance has an area that has a roof, designed to handle disasters of especially patients in the emergency category priority 3, of which patients whose images are in the social media fall into,” she said.
The public and private health system in Gauteng has an ambulance diversion system in which ambulances get information on what services are under pressure in any of the hospitals.
“With non-Covid-19 patients that service gets utilised, but for Covid-19 patients all hospitals are inundated. Covid-19 patients require immediate care. The hospital resolved that there will be no diversion of ambulance to other facilities, and no turning away of any patient as long as there is a space that a patient can be attended to fully so as to ensure more people are catered to,” said Kekana.
The facility was putting up two additional tents to accommodate this increase in number of patients coming to the facility, she said.
“We are urging communities not to be complacent. The non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing of mask, good hand hygiene, sanitising, avoiding closed and crowded places remain central in the preventing the further spread of Covid-19,” Kekana pleaded.