Western Cape: ‘Even in best case scenario, we’ll be short of ICU beds’

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The Western Cape is starting to see increased pressure on its hospital systems ahead of the coronavirus peak, but it has not yet reached peak capacity. Polity reports that the Premier’s office warned however that, while it was ready to meet current critical care needs, at the peak, “even in the best-case scenario, we will still fall short of ICU beds”.

“The public sector has an existing capacity of 2 162 acute beds, and an 1 428 additional care beds will be provided by temporary ‘field hospitals’ in the Western Cape, including the 850 additional beds at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 330 beds at a temporary hospital facility in Brackengate, 68 at the Khayelitsha Thusong Centre, 150 at the Cape Winelands Sonstraal Hospital, and 30 additional beds at Tygerberg Hospital,” said Premier Alan Winde’s spokesperson Bianca Capazorio.

Capazorio said the provincial government was looking to make 550 critical care beds available at the peak – 150 that already exist in public health facilities, 100 additional beds to be added in the public sector (but additional resources are needed for these), and the purchasing of 300 beds from the private sector for patients from the public sector. “There are still an additional 300 ICU beds in the private sector available when this is considered. This means that we have a potential total of 850 ICU beds available in the Western Cape,” she said.

It was reported last week that the intensive care unit at the province’s biggest hospital, Tygerberg Hospital, had already reached its capacity, as 25 beds set aside for COVID-19 patients were fully occupied as of Tuesday. As of Thursday, 23 of the beds were occupied.

The Western Cape Health Department said the hospital should not be seen in isolation from the provincial plan in managing the pandemic, as it formed part of an “integrated plan, leveraging all available resources”. The province had 2,162 general care beds and 150 ICU beds that exist in central and regional hospitals, it said. By Thursday, there were 143 patients admitted to ICU in both public and private hospitals, including the 23 at Tygerberg Hospital.

According to Polity, it was reported that the number of COVID-19 patients at Groote Schuur Hospital is doubling every five days, currently running seven wards with over 120 COVID-19 patients, and four intensive care units with 19 COVID-19 patients. Mitchells Plain District Hospital was also taking strain as local infection numbers increased, it has been reported.

Full Polity report

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