Extra hospital beds, nurses for Gauteng: Zweli Mkhize
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says his department is enabling the provision of additional hospital beds, nurses and oxygen points in Gauteng as Covid-19 admissions surge.
The provincial government on Friday said the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Gauteng stands at 81,546, with 26,438 recoveries and 515 deaths. The last time fatalities were made public was on Wednesday, when there were 478 deaths.
A total of 3,006 people are now hospitalised in public and private facilities in Gauteng — an increase of 314 cases from data released on Thursday.
Mkhize together with Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku on Friday visited the Tshwane district hospital and the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to assess their readiness for dealing with Covid-19 patients.
“We took an emergency decision from national level that we will create an intervention unit that will be responsible for bringing in additional beds in literally all the hospitals,” Mkhize said.
“We are preparing for a situation where each and every hospital must be able to make its own assessment of patients and there will be no time for referral.”
Mkhize said as the numbers continue to rise, it was expected that there would be pressure for beds at hospitals — and on staffing requirements. He said the department would also tackle staffing requirements.
“We have been informed of the shortage of staff and we are working on it, we are aware of this and so far we are mobilising close to 680 staff to come from the private nursing agencies to support the health department. We are also looking at the database that the province has made available. We will continue to look at how we will source additional staff.”
Mkhize said additional capacity would be created at hospitals.
“The numbers have started building up, the beds which are there will be under pressure, more patients are coming in. We are going to be seeing the peak of the epidemic ...
“We have a team looking at adding 2,000 additional beds to field hospitals in Gauteng. The health department is also working on oxygen points around the province. We will also increase the number of ventilators,” he said.
Mkhize signalled a possible move towards a resumption of the ban on the sale of liquor.
“We have now been receiving complaints from this hospital and other hospitals that alcohol trauma-related cases are having pressure on the hospitals and also overloading the staff. We have tabled the issue with the [national Covid-19] command council,” he said.
Commending the medical teams on the front line of the pandemic, Mkhize said: “We assure you that we will make sure that you are protected.
“I will be distributing gear from the Solidarity Fund to all the provinces. We will work with the unions to oversee the distribution and quality of our stock.”
MEC Masuku said “preparations that we have been putting in place as a response measure on Covid-19 include triage tents ... we have been treating patients there successfully”.
The tents have been functional for over a month, he said.
“Our objective is that no patient must be turned back, all patients must be taken care of even when they are still waiting for beds and to be triaged, they still need to be taken care of and receive treatment. These tents should have the capacity and capabilities to do ICU, to also give oxygen and actually give IV treatment.
“That's the capacity we have demonstrated out there and the tents have been functional for almost a month now. We have had a lot of patients coming through them. Our facilities have been functional.”
CEO of Steve Biko hospital Mathabo Mathebula said more than 600 patients had been admitted. Most were doing well but the hospital had recorded 33 fatalities.
Mathebula said all health workers were working hard to save lives.
“The message that we would like to spread to our people is that when they get admitted in the fever tent, it's not like we are rejecting them, we are just trying to contain the spread, we are waiting for results,” she said.
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