Netcare offers to assist struggling Eastern Cape

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To counter the worsening COVID-19 situation in the Eastern Cape, Netcare has deployed extra nurses, paramedics and medical equipment to its hospitals in the province and offered assistance to the state sector, writes MedicalBrief. The medical staff, all volunteers from other provinces, will be on 10-day rotations.

BusinessLIVE quotes Netcare CEO Dr Richard Friedland saying that the private hospital group had offered to to admit state patients. Unlike the Western Cape, no formal arrangement is in place for Eastern Cape Health to refer state patients to private providers.

“We have let the officials know that we are more than willing to sit down and try to conclude an agreement,” Friedland told BusinessLIVE. Eastern Cape Health did not respond to a BusinessLIVE request for comment.

Nelson Mandela Bay metro is the province’s hotspot and the metro’s public hospitals ran out of ICU beds earlier in November. Netcare operates the 359-bed Greenacres and 137-bed Cuyler hospitals in the Eastern Cape

Friedland said Netcare was seeing what looked like “a fully fledged second wave”. “What is of grave concern is the number of people now testing positive is about 10%,” he said. Netcare is also considering suspending elective surgery as the region, reports BusinessLive.

 

Business Insider reports that Netcare is flying in ventilators from Gauteng.  Jacques du Plessis, managing director of the company’s hospital division, told a media briefing on Monday, 23 November, that of the 313 COVID-19 patients currently treated in Netcare hospitals, 150 are in the Eastern Cape.

eNCA quotes Livingston Hospital‘s acting-CEO Dr Mthandeki Xamlashe saying that the hospital was losing 80% of those who go to ventilation and ICU’s . “We lose half of the people who come to our wards,” he is further quoted as saying.

Livingstone Hospital’s Dr Emma Gardiner told enCA it was extremely difficult for staff to keep motivated. “There’s a very high burden of patients who are passing away and who are suffering and it’s very difficult for some of our junior staff to carry that burden. So we actually need fresh legs.”

“In total, if you count everything together, we only have 26 spaces on this floor, so we have to sometimes make difficult choices. In our O&E side, we’ve been able to split the oxygen so we can provide more oxygen to patients coming in.”

Only 34 patients have been admitted to the 1000-bed NASREC field hospital so far this month, but R380 a day is being paid for each empty bed.

 

In Gauteng,  Acting Gauteng Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo revealed during a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Legislature that the province is likely to be paying the Johannesburg Expo Centre around R32m for empty NASREC field hospital beds.

Responding to a question by the Democratic Alliance‘s Jack Bloom, Mamabalo said they were contractually committed to a fixed cost per bed of R380 a day, and R390 a day for each patient. The contract expires on 31 January next year so the last three months of the contract is likely to cost more than R32 million.

Bloom criticised the expenditure as unjustified and “extremely wasteful” even if there were a second wave of COVID-19 infections in Gauteng,  since “fewer than 10% of the NASREC beds were used at the peak of the epidemic in July”. “It would be far better to contract with private hospitals to take public patients if state hospitals ever overflow with COVID-19 patients.”

“I have requested the Auditor-General to investigate the NASREC contract which I suspect contravenes good practice and is possibly corrupt,” Bloom said

 

Full Business Insider report

 

Full eNCA report

 

Full BusinessLive report (Subscription needed)

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