File picture: Guillem Sartorio/AFP
File picture: Guillem Sartorio/AFP

How private hospitals in Gauteng are managing Covid-19 third wave

By James Mahlokwane Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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Pretoria - Health facilities in Gauteng are increasing capacity as the number of confirmed Covid-19 hospital admissions continue to soar.

Mediclinic, Netcare and Life Healthcare this week said some of their facilities were under pressure as the third wave of the pandemic intensified.

Managing director of Netcare’s hospital division Jacques du Plessis said the group added extra resources to assist with the anticipated increase of Covid-19 admissions.

He said last week, non-urgent surgeries requiring post-operative critical care were suspended to free up capacity where needed.

“We will never turn away patients in need of emergency care, and given the experience of the first and second waves, we are well equipped to ensure we are able to maximise our ability to provide the necessary care.

“We encourage the public to seek healthcare from their general practitioners early on when they start feeling unwell, especially if they experience difficulty breathing. When people delay seeking medical attention until their condition is serious, unfortunately there is a greater risk of less favourable outcomes.

“At times, however, patients seeking care at our hospitals’ emergency departments, regrettably, have been required to wait if there is a sudden influx of patients. As part of our disaster management planning, we have commissioned temporary clinical decision units at certain hospitals in the province, to accommodate additional patients.

“These commissioned temporary clinical decisions will come on line from this week to ease the burden on the emergency departments and to enable the stabilisation of patients prior to hospitalisation,” Du Plessis added.

Life Healthcare regional manager Johan Holder told Pretoria News that the group was experiencing a rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions in Gauteng, as well as some of its hospitals Mpumalanga and the North West.

He said: “We have taken key learnings from previous waves of infections to further strengthen our internal protocols. All facility hospital management teams continue to work closely with their doctor Covid-19 committees who provide guidance in clinical decisions.

“Our preparedness for the third wave of infections is aligned to those of the second wave where we shifted from central decision-making to empowering hospital management to make decisions at hospital level as they were affected differently at different times.

“Essentially this meant that instead of suspending necessary surgeries for all hospitals at the same time, the decision was made by the hospital management and doctor committees based on the local Covid-19 situation. The same applies with regard to suspension of visitation, recruitment of personnel and deployment of equipment as the surge moved from one area to another.”

Mediclinic Southern African corporate communication manager Tertia Kruger said the third wave had strongly affected the capacity of their facilities in Gauteng as well as the Free State and Northern Cape, although it was still able to receive and accommodate patients.

He said: “Where we are experiencing pressure on our resources, measures are in place to further increase our capacity should this be required.

“It is important to note that while ICU and high care facilities are under tremendous pressure in some regions, not all Covid-19 patients require ICU care or mechanical ventilation.

“Many admitted patients are treated successfully with supplemental oxygen and other supportive treatment modalities and Mediclinic has capacity within these medical wards, to assist patients in this manner.”

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the private sector accounted for the majority of people hospitalised due to Covid-19.

She said: “We are also seeing an increasing number of people under investigation particularly in the West Rand and Joburg.

“We have dedicated Covid-19 functional beds supported by a live electronic management dashboard which is used to monitor the utilisation of beds across the province.

“We have also adopted a risk-adjusted and demand informed strategy to optimise our response to the Covid-19 third wave and the Covid-19 pandemic in general.”

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