“We extend our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the patients’ loved ones, and pray for them in this time of great loss and sadness,” said Dr Richard Friedland, CEO of the Netcare Group.
“Two of the patients were first admitted to the hospital on 9 and 13 March 2020 respectively, and the third patient on 14 March 2020. These patients did not have a history of recent international travel or known contact with a person who was Covid-19 positive, nor did they present with any symptoms of Covid-19 when they were screened on admission.
This situation prompted Netcare and Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, in close collaboration with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (KZN DoH), to take the precautionary decision to test all healthcare and support workers who may have come into contact with the three patients for Covid-19 infection, he said.
“We immediately put further measures in place, including the closure of the hospital’s emergency department and stopping all new admissions into the hospital.”
There was also a “considerable initiative under way” to reinforce all infection control precautions and formal monitoring of all precautions to be conducted several times a day.
“As persons infected with Covid-19 have frequently no or few symptoms but may still be contagious, Netcare yesterday took the precautionary decision to increase the level of screening and testing of nursing, support and contracted staff, doctors, paramedics, as well as current patients at Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital, to determine whether or not they are clear of Covid-19 infection.”
The screening and testing would enable the hospital to isolate any patients and hospital workers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 as well as facilitate the tracking of all persons who had been in contact with the healthcare workers or patients to ensure they were tested and took the necessary precautionary measures to prevent the further spread of the infection.
Ongoing daily screening of all staff, doctors and contract workers would continue before they were allowed to enter the hospital.
“This will enable prompt identification and testing of any persons at risk who may not have had symptoms on previous days.
“The hospital management is currently in the process of explaining the situation to patients who are being cared for in Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital and contacting their relatives to explain to them the situation and the measures being taken.”
The hospital had also set up a dedicated 24-hour information and support service. Onsite and telephonic support services for all employees had also been established.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)