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Covid-19: Netcare hospital denies report that UK woman was refused care

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Published Mar 22, 2020


Cape Town - The Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital (NCBMH) in Cape Town on Sunday denied a report that a UK couple with the coronavirus were refused care because the facility was not prepared for Covid-19 cases.

This comes after a GroundUp report of a couple who returned from the UK healthy but then a few days tested positive for Covid-19. 

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According to the  GroundUp article, "Sheila Moore, 71, and her husband, Richard Moore, 73, returned from the United Kingdom on Tuesday 10 March healthy. A few days later both she and her husband had tested positive for the new coronavirus, and Sheila was developing a worrying shortness of breath.

"On her healthcare advisor’s recommendation, she asked the Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital on Cape Town’s Foreshore to admit her, but the recently built 'state-of-the-art' 'world class healthcare facility' turned her away, saying it hadn’t prepared quarantine facilities at the 248-bed hospital. While the hospital later recanted its decision, Sheila didn’t want to put its patients at risk."

Sheila was admitted to Groote Schuur on Wednesday, where she is in a stable condition, the article says.

On Sunday NCBMH general manager Chris Tilney said that the incident was a misunderstanding and apologised to the couple.

"At no stage were people in need of emergency medical assistance, including Covid-19 positive cases, refused care at our hospital’s emergency department," said Tilney.

"We sincerely apologise to the couple who were kept waiting for further advisement, for any inconvenience and anxiety that this has caused them.

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“A misunderstanding may have arisen when the independent doctor who is responsible for the running of the emergency department, quite correctly, and in accordance with the protocols regarding our response to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, requested the couple to wait while he consulted with clinical colleagues.

“Since this was not an emergency admission the doctor involved was confirming protocols and clinical and collegial support to ensure that all safety measures were in place to ensure the safety of staff and other patients, before accepting the patient. During this time the doctor at NCBMH remained in discussion with the Department of Health (DoH) representative and advised that NCBMH was ready and awaiting the patient. 

Tilney said: “The DoH representative advised that Groote Schuur Hospital’s clinical team had agreed that they could also assist and that the choice of facility should be left to the patient.

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“We wish to assure the public that NCBMH is fully prepared to accept Covid-19 patients with the necessary dedicated, appropriate facilities and trained staff in managing Covid-19 patients safely, should they require admission. We have implemented all necessary precautionary measures in close consultation with the DoH and National Institute of Communicable Diseases as part of the national response to the unfolding Covid-19 outbreak.

“We extend our best wishes to the patient and trust that she will recover fully and speedily,” Tilney concluded.


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