Eastern Cape increases hospital capacity to cope with beds crisis

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All private hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay have suspended non-urgent surgeries and admissions and two are bringing staff from other provinces as facilities are hit by a double crisis – an increasing number of healthcare professionals falling ill and a rising demand for high-care and intensive care beds, says Daily Maverick.

And, the report says, Professor Lungile Pepeta, the dean of the department of health sciences at Nelson Mandela University, proposed the urgent establishment of an operations committee for the metro, joining business, healthcare facilities, civil society, the university and the labour unions. “We must get the expertise of the private colleagues to set up the right systems for us. This is not a time to be negative, but we all know we don’t have the right systems. We need collaboration and cooperation – and we need unity.

All elective surgeries and non-urgent admissions at Netcare Greenacres Hospital in Port Elizabeth and Netcare Cuyler Hospital in Uitenhage were cancelled until further notice except where this would be detrimental to the patient in an effort to free up beds in the hospitals’ high care and intensive care units.

Andre Bothma, area general manager Eastern Cape of Netcare’s hospital division, said the decision was taken after the Eastern Cape Health Department announced during a briefing session on 19 June that the number of COVID-19 positive persons in the province had doubled over the past 10 days

Riaan Croucamp, the regional manager for Life Healthcare hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay, said hey were bringing staff in from provinces that have not been hit by a surge in infections, and were in discussion with the Health Department about collaboration options with provincial facilities.

Eastern Cape Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said there was currently no official private/public partnership agreement between private hospitals and the Eastern Cape Department of Health, but they were working together.

Head of Eastern Cape Health, Dr Thobile Mabuyane said 763 health workers in the province had taken ill with COVID-19.


The Eastern Cape provincial government is planning to build 4 000-bed field hospitals across the province in all the six district municipalities and two metropolitans. News24 reports that this is expected to decrease the load on its overburdened 91 hospitals. This comes as the Eastern Cape health system is showing cracks of collapse, with more nurses crying out for help amid rising number of infections among staff at its strained hospitals.

The report says on the weekend, Humansdorp Hospital was closed after 35 health workers tested positive for COVID-19. Provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) Khaya Sodidi said three doctors, two cleaners and 30 nurses tested positive at Humansdorp Hospital.

Eastern Cape government spokesperson Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha said the province has also invested R222m for the refurbishment and construction of healthcare facilities beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The investment was to ready the healthcare infrastructure for the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme.


Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize paid tribute to South African health workers at the inauguration of the Rev Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital, in Nelson Mandela Bay, reports Polity. The R11m project is a collaboration between Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the German development agency GIZ, the Eastern Cape Health Department, Nelson Mandela Bay municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

The hospital site is the former VWSA manufacturing plant in Uitenhage and, the report says, the first phase of this temporary facility can accommodate 1,485 patients.

To ramp up the testing facility in the Eastern Cape, VWSA will also support the National Health Laboratory Services in the province.

“A total of 3,300 beds, along with the oxygen reticulation to go with it, have been established in record time in the first phase. We discussed how this has demonstrated efficiency and strong project management skills that government would benefit a great deal from. I want to say congratulations to VW, the Premier and all the players who were involved in this project,” said Mkhize.


Full Daily Maverick report


Full News24 report


Full Polity report

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