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Hospitals feeling strain of unrest over and above Covid-19 pandemic

Netcare says the violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal is putting additional strain on their hospitals. Picture. Netcare 911

Netcare says the violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal is putting additional strain on their hospitals. Picture. Netcare 911

Published Jul 15, 2021

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Pretoria - Netcare says the violence in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal is putting additional strain on their hospitals over and above the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Extensive contingency measures are in place within Netcare Group facilities and, where needed, have been implemented to provide individuals in need of medical care under the current circumstances.

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“Unfortunately, the violence in certain parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng is placing additional pressure on both the public and private healthcare systems,” Netcare chief executive Dr Richard Friedland said.

He added that like many other businesses they had experienced some challenges due to staff shortages as a result of employees not being able to reach their places of work.

However, Netcare’s hospitals remain open across the country.

“We have treated a number of people for protest-related injuries, placing further pressure on an already constrained health-care system, including emergency medical services,” he said.

Friedland confirmed that contingency plans had been implemented to ensure patients could continue to benefit from health-care services amid violent protests. However, the situation is fluid and Netcare remains on high alert to respond promptly to possible new developments.

Friedland confirmed that Netcare currently has sufficient oxygen, medicines, food and water, and was continuing to monitor supplies to ensure that the health of patients was not compromised.

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“We have sent a team of specialised trauma nurses to KZN and have flown urgent medicines to the region following the inability of one of our major suppliers to get stocks of medicines out to our hospitals. But for now we have had to suspend vaccinations in KZN,” Friedland said.

However, as a precautionary measure, a few of the group’s primary care facilities, Netcare Medicross and Netcare PrimeCure in KZN have been temporarily closed.

Friedland said they would continue to monitor the situation to assess when it would be reasonable and safe to reopen these facilities.

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Meanwhile, ER24 said the violence had also impacted their services in various areas.

The emergency services group said that with various road closures and “no-go areas”, their emergency ambulance response times might be slower as the teams might have to reroute to access patients and hospitals. “We have temporarily moved some of our staff and assets from ‘hot spot’ areas to ensure staff safety, and to be able to continue service to patients,” Russel Meiring, ER24 spokesperson said.

ER24 is also implementing contingency plans to ensure oxygen supplies.

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“However, we do note that various suppliers may be unable to deliver in affected areas. We are working closely with other health-care providers to ensure an uninterrupted supply,” Meiring said.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate also said that the violence has placed a strain on the already stretched police workforce.

It said investigators were not able to attend to some crime scenes and they could not, in some cases, reach the bodies of people who had died owing to the chaos in the areas where the protests are taking place.

In one case at Shoprite in Inanda in KZN, investigators could not reach a body or attend to the crime scene due to burning tyres in the road and attacks on their vehicles.

In another case they were informed of a person who bled to death as the ambulance could not get there in time.

Pretoria News

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