File picture: Baz Ratner/Reuters
File picture: Baz Ratner/Reuters

Hospitals in Tshwane full as third wave takes fatal toll

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Jun 28, 2021

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Pretoria - As the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads in the country and hospitals run short of beds and oxygen, a nurse working in the ICU of a private hospital in Tshwane has begged people to take the virus seriously.

“My heart is so sore from what I see. This wave is, without any doubt, much more serious than the previous two. I just hope people will listen and stay at home,” said the nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Speaking to the Pretoria News as she returned from her night shift in the intensive care unit (ICU) of a major hospital, the nurse was emotional when she said those who are suffering the most at the moment are the health workers.

They see people around them die every day.

“This is the simple reality. It is like it is,” the nurse said, breaking down in tears.

She said while things are bad in the private hospital sector, she can just imagine what the situation must be in government hospitals.

The nurse said the speciality units, such as ICUs, are bearing the brunt, as there are simply no more beds.

“As people die, they make way for others to take their beds … We are tired, the doctors are tired. We are down and out, but we do not have a choice. We must find the strength to continue,” she said.

Another nurse, working at a Johannesburg private hospital, told the Pretoria News that a car accident victim arrived in the emergency unit over the weekend. He desperately needed oxygen and to be admitted.

“There was no bed for him. In a bid to save his life, he was rushed to the theatre to be operated on. Afterwards he was taken back to the emergency unit, as all the beds in the hospital were also full. He had to wait until someone died before he got a bed,” said the nurse.

The nurse said her heart goes out to all the patients who desperately need care, but simply cannot get what they should at this stage.

“If things continue like this, I have no idea where it will end,” she said.

The Netcare Hospital Group, meanwhile, said it has substantially increased its Covid-19 bed capacity, contracted more resident medical officers and clinical associates, and made every effort to ensure adequate supplies of oxygen.

“The extremely high number of persons with Covid-19 seeking care at our hospitals – and with the numbers continuing to increase – has, however, placed significant demand on our facilities, requiring us to make decisions regarding levels of care and certain treatment modalities,” said Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.

He added that clinicians will make these decisions based on the availability of resources and their best clinical judgement.

Friedland explained that, in practical terms, 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 at all times.

He said Netcare facilities, throughout Gauteng, continued to experience an unprecedented demand on bed capacity.

“The best way you can support South Africa is to take Covid-19 extremely seriously and be more cautious than ever,” he warned.

Members of Dare to Love thank healthcare workers at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Organisations such as Dare To Love, meanwhile, tried their best this weekend to keep the spirits of health workers up. They visited some of the private hospitals in Tshwane, as well as the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on Saturday, where they prayed for health workers.

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Political Bureau

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