Eastern Cape hospitals need more beds, staff, oxygen - Mkhize
CAPE TOWN - Hospitals in the Eastern Cape need more staff and beds - particularly in remote areas - and more oxygen equipment, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday as he visited state facilities in the province to monitor Covid-19 readiness.
Mkhize said the province had 3,500 hospital beds for Covid-19 patients, but this number needed to be increased, and it was vital that the additional beds were "in areas of need because of the vastness of the province".
He said he had given instructions that all bureaucratic processes be streamlined rapidly so that the provincial health department could fill long-standing vacancies that had left it short as it faced its surge period.
This included resolving disciplinary processes that have left facilities with managers on suspension for long periods, the minister said.
"There must be speedy resolution of those... there must be firm and proper leadership in all the institutions."
Mkhize acknowledged that a BBC documentary had revealed shocking conditions at some Eastern Cape hospitals, and said his department had given instructions these were to be cleaned up and repaired.
"We directed that urgent repair work must be done in those areas, and that waste management companies have already been put in place by the MEC so those areas must be cleaned up."
He said that where needed, patients would be moved to field hospitals, while those who were in an unacceptable state were put into order.
The Eastern Cape currently has the third highest number of Covid-19 infections in the country, with 67,818 confirmed cases recorded by Tuesday evening.
Mkhize said it was also running low on oxygen for patients as supply was not evenly spread through the province and there were instances where reticulation equipment needed maintenance.
"The condensing unit is actually getting low temperatures and making ice outside and therefore it is really compromising its operation," he said.