A shortage of specialised nurses has meant that Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town is able to run only 25 of its 42 ICU beds, while a shortage of COVID-19 test kits has resulted in a results backlog.
The Times reports that these were two of the key points raised by hospital managers during a parliamentary committee visit to its new temporary testing and triage facility, built to manage the anticipated large influx of COVID-19 cases.
On Monday the hospital was treating 140 people in connection with the pandemic. About half of these patients were COVID-19 positive while the rest were awaiting results. But with a backlog of 18,000 test results, health experts believe those results may not arrive in time.
In the testing and triage centre – a large, rigid tent built on one of the hospital’s parking lots next to the main entrance – dozens of people sit in chairs waiting to be processed. It’s a smooth operation run by limited staff under great strain, as the pandemic continues to spread through the Western Cape, where more cases have been recorded than anywhere else in the country – at least for now, say some experts, until other provinces catch up.
Virologist Dr Wolfgang Preiser said the country was experiencing the same test-kit supply backlog that others around the world were experiencing.
Tygerberg’s director of clinical services Dr Paul Ciapparelli said the hospital had dedicated 225 ward beds for COVID-19 patients, including from their ICU and high-care wards.
“We are struggling with a shortage of staff, particularly nursing staff. We have had to redeploy staff from various theatres,” he said, adding that highly skilled nursing staff with particular skills were needed and they were not easily found.
The hospital now runs five COVID-19 teams, consisting of various staff from different wards who work on a 24-hour shift system.
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2020-05-26-plea-for-specialised-nurses-too-few-to-run-icu-beds-at-tygerberg-hospital/"]Full report in The Times[/link]