Life Healthcare group, which runs private hospitals across the country, says the second Covid-19 wave has resulted in a higher number of patients being admitted to its hospitals daily than in the first wave.
According to Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, general manager for emergency medicine at Life Healthcare: “The number of patients in hospital on any one day has exceeded the peak number we experienced during the first wave.”
“Hospitals in all of our regions are experiencing significant pressure on ICU and high care capacity,” he adds.
Amid reports of a temporary patient screening area being set up in one Life hospital’s basement, Van Loggerenberg says all hospitals need to balance available staffing with the need to accommodate and treat patients who are admitted for various health-related conditions.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, we have erected and removed temporary holding areas and assigned dedicated “respiratory assessment” areas as the surge fluctuated and moved – as did many hospitals both public and private,” notes Van Loggerenberg.
He adds: “Although Life Healthcare is actively responding to the increased demand, human resources and equipment are finite, and there are constraints on the numbers of patients that can be cared for within our facilities.”
According to Van Loggerenberg, additional patient holding or screening areas are simply to safely handle the volume of patients arriving: “They would still ultimately go through the emergency unit.”
“Many facilities have created similar additional temporary screening and triage areas – be they tents / temporary park home type structures/additional wards, etc as the need has arisen,” he says.
One of the motivating factors in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of stricter lockdown regulations shortly before the start of the new year was the strain being placed on the country’s health care system.
Van Loggerenberg notes: “Both the first, and second wave, has meant that our employees, support staff, allied medical professionals, nurses, and doctors, are under enormous stress and pressure, but remain focused in their tireless efforts in the management of our hospitals and caring for patients both with Covid-related conditions and for non-Covid conditions.”
He adds: “We sincerely urge the community to please help all hospitals in combatting the virus by not neglecting mask-wearing, social distancing, and proper hand hygiene. Adhering to these safety measures.”