Durban - Giant South African private hospital group, Netcare is calling in all frontline workers from leave and are planning on applying strict international guidelines on what medical services patients will receive in the coming weeks as South Africa’s Covid-19 second wave spreads across the country.
In a statement on Monday, Netcare’s chief executive officer, Dr Richard Friedland said the new surge in Covid-19 infections had forced Netcare to review and evaluate all it is doing to combat the impact of the virus.
The statement comes as South Africa breached the one million mark for Covid-19 infections on Sunday night with the total number of people dying reaching 26 735.
South Africa’s recovery rate stand at 84.1%.
Friedland said the recent surge of cases particularly in the Eastern Cape (EC), Limpopo, Western Cape (WC) and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has placed a significant and unprecedented demand on Netcare’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. Fortunately, we have seen a reduction in cases in the Eastern Cape. We however remain extremely concerned about Gauteng, which is already beginning to surge, and we are expecting a dramatic increase in cases as holiday makers return to the province in early January,” he noted.
According to Dr Friedland, in the EC, Limpopo, WC and KZN provinces the number of patients admitted to hospital far exceeds that which was experienced in the first wave of the pandemic.
He said that Netcare has had to substantially increase its oxygen capacity at all hospitals and has urgently recalled all frontline staff from leave.
The company is deploying additional doctors, nurses, paramedics and healthcare worker teams to areas of need.
“We have also ensured that we have adequate supplies of the appropriate drugs and consumables, as well as personal protective equipment to last us throughout this second wave. We have implemented strict infection prevention and control policies and principles. We demand fastidious adherence to these standard operating procedures, which are at all times aligned to the guidelines and protocols issued by the World Health organization [WHO] and the National Department of Health [NDoH].”
“While we will always endeavour to provide care to patients arriving at our facilities, the increased demand will require us to make decisions regarding access to certain treatment modalities. All of these decisions will be based on recognised international guidelines of triage [allocation of treatment based on priority] and transition of care,” assured Dr Friedland.
He noted that clinical, nursing and management teams will provide the best care available to all patients, but may not, in circumstances where the demand exceeds or overwhelms the capacity, be able to provide all treatment options that would be available in normal, non- pandemic, circumstances.
“Practically, this may mean that levels of care such as ICU and High Care, ventilators or certain oxygen delivery modalities may not be available to all patients. Where possible, we will seek to transfer patients, once stabilised, to one of our other hospitals, should they have capacity. Our clinicians will make all of these decisions based on the availability of resources and their best clinical judgement. We fully support them in this difficult task and complex decision-making process.
“During these uncertain and difficult times, we appreciate the public’s patience and understanding, and I want to assure you that we are working as hard as humanly possible on the frontline to provide the best and safest care we can to our patients during this challenging time,” Dr Friedland said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in recent days been meeting with National Coronavirus Command Council amid the growing number of Covid-19 infections.
Some doctors are calling for another hard lockdown to curb the spread of the second wave, while businesses and other are pleading with people to be responsible and maintain social distancing to avoid an economy crushing hard lockdown.