Tshwane hospital continues to fight Covid-19 after being unscathed by civil unrest
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Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital was one of a few healthcare facilities in the Gauteng metros that were unscathed by the civil unrest that derailed the provision of services in some parts of the province.
Acting CEO Dr Keneilwe Letebele said on Friday that they were spared because the past week’s protests did not reach as far as Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.
“Up until now, our hospital has not been adversely affected, possibly because there were not much protest marches happening in our vicinity,” said Letebele.
The reprieve gave the facility room to focus on the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, which they so far had under control.
She said lessons learnt from the first two waves of infections had helped them mitigate the high number of fatalities during the third wave.
“The situation is quite challenging but we have learnt some valuable lessons from the first and second wave experiences regardless of some differences.
“These lessons have helped us to adapt to the situation. What is important is that when the first wave engulfed us, it was a first experience for everyone but now we know what to expect and how to address some challenges,” she said.
Letebele highlighted that they have 60 additional beds at their recently built Alternative Building Technology (ABT) unit, complimenting the existing 280 beds dedicated to Covid-19.
However, she lamented the shortage of staff due a high number of healthcare workers testing positive for the virus.
“Capacity is reduced due to staff being Covid-19 positive. However, the department has increased the number of staff to manage the surge (in cases),” she said.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s spokesperson Vuyo Mhaga said scientists have warned that although Covid-19 numbers were starting to drop in the province, the decline was not enough.
“The province is concerned that there might be a change in the downward trajectory of new infections due to recent protest action.
“Daily new infections remain very high. Some of those infected do require hospital care. These protests might cause the province to take longer to flatten the curve,” said Mhaga.
“Government and the private sector continue to monitor the situation and where the need arises, beds will be repurposed to create additional capacity for those requiring hospital care.”
DA health spokesperson MEC Jack Bloom said it was disturbing that some pharmacies in the provinces were also vandalised during the riots.
“Gauteng’s infections have been coming down, but the riotous gatherings will probably lead to more infections, which is most unfortunate.
“The Gauteng Health Department needs to make every effort to ensure sufficient medical supplies, particularly oxygen. The latest disruption worsens the staff and bed shortages that are costing lives that could have been saved,” said Bloom.