The new Gift of the Givers 20-bed Covid-19 isolation facility, along with stretchers and personal protective equipment, will ease the pressure on Settlers Hospital in Makhanda. However, it’s not clear how or where the Department of Health will find the staff to run it.
The fully equipped unit was opened less than 24 hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced strict enforcement of lockdown regulations in the Eastern Cape.
The province is leading South Africa’s second wave of Coronavirus infections, with additional measures to slow down the infection rate in the Sarah Baartman and Nelson Mandela Bay hotspots. On the day of the handover, the Department of Health reported that the number of admissions during the resurgence appeared to be exceeding the number of admissions in the previous peak.
“As the number of cases increases, hospitalisations also increase,” the Department said in its SARS Cov-2 Epidemiological Report for 15 December. On Tuesday the Eastern Cape had 13 033 active cases. Of these, 4 753 (36,5%) were from NM Metro and Sarah Baartman. By 15 December 75 people had died at Settlers Hospital from Covid-related causes.
There to receive the R750 000 facility were acting CEO Yvonne Ngesi, representatives from the Department of Health’s District and Subdistrict offices and Makana Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa.
“We are so very grateful to the Gift of the Givers,” said Ngesi. This facility will make a big difference to our ability to care for our patients.”
“With the second wave we were not able to handle the number of cases that came in,” said Johanette Ferreira, from the DoH’s Sarah Baartman District office. “The hospital wasn’t big enough.”
First a group of stable medical patients had been moved to a section of Temba Hospital to make it possible to open up another Covid ward at Settlers. The Gift of the Givers’ new facility meant the hospital now had the capacity to receive more patients.
“From the District office I want to thank the Gift of the Givers on behalf of the community, and the municipality, and us as nurses,” Ferreira said. “It’s so much easier for us to work in well equipped facilities like this. “We are very privileged and thank you.”
Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa said, “This is a huge relief for our hospital and on behalf of the CIty, I would like to thank Dr Sooliman for the wonderful partnership that Gift of the Givers has with the government.”
Twelve beds at Temba have been freed to accommodate non-Covid patients and on Tuesday, six had been transferred there. An 11-bed section remains open for TB patients at Temba, which if necessary could accommodate 40 patients.
The new Gift of the Givers Covid isolation facility was completed in less than a week, with a team of builders on site two days after Dr Sooliman’s 30 November visit to Settlers. The rapid work was both in response to the need in Makhanda, as well as to ease the pressure on health facilities in the hospot of Nelson Mandela Bay.
Grocott’s Mail previously reported Dr Sooliman’s explanation of their Covid-19 strategy for the Eastern Cape: First, support the hospital staff; second, take the pressure off the central (epicentre) hospitals by keeping patients in their own towns and treating them there. To do that, though, the public needs to have confidence in their local health care facilities – which need to be correctly equipped to look after them.
Along with beds, mattresses, blankets, pillows and linen, the dedicated Covid-19 isolation facility includes a High Care section and oxygen points. Gift of the Givers also provided a fridge, microwave and urn.
Settlers casualty department received 16 stretchers to accommodate PUIs (patients under investigation).
Still unanswered by Tuesday, however, was how the expanded local facilities – both at Settlers and Temba – would be staffed. Grocott’s Mail understands that District, Subdistrict and institutional managers met on Tuesday afternoon to discuss this. Attempts to find out from the DOH spokesperson what the result of these discussions were have so far been unsuccessful.
Grocott’s Mail understands that other hospitals in the province face a similar dilemma.
The Gift of the Givers earlier this week outlined work they are doing at other health facilities in the province as follows:
- Willowmore Hospital has agreed to increase their capacity by another 15 beds. They have oxygen points. Gift of the Givers will provide the beds and any additional support required.
- Margery Parkes Hospital in Graaff-Reinet has agreed to make a wing available to cater for twenty Covid-19 patients. Gift of the Givers will provide necessary support.
- Gift of the Givers has set up a 120-bed Covid-19 facility at Bhisho Hospital. Construction teams were set to arrive on Tuesday to carry out a R3 million renovation to provide accommodation for medical professionals to live on site, thus increasing staff availability at the facility.
- The MOU between Eastern Cape Health, Trauma Net Ambulance and Gift of the Givers is almost ready having been reviewed by the legal teams. Twenty six paramedics, funded by Gift of the Givers, will provide support to Livingstone Hospital. This in addition to the six nursing staff funded by Gift of the Givers since June.
- Distribution of PPEs, sanitiser, non-contact thermometers, pulse oximeters, scrubs and dexamethasone (therapeutic steroids) to various hospitals is ongoing.
- More High Flow Nasal Oxygen machines are being sent to the province to cope with the rising number of oxygen dependent admissions.
TESTING, TRACING, QUARANTINE
There are key issues, which require improvement according to the Eastern Cape Department of Health. The following is outlined in their 15 December epidemiological report:
o Strengthen surveillance of SARS-Cov-2 including collection and testing of specimens.
o Prioritize contact tracing and monitoring to minimize the spread of the infections.
o Isolate positive cases and quarantine contacts to minimise transmission.
o Promote the use of prevention measures against SARS-Cov-2, i.e. wearing of masks, routine hand washing or sanitization, and social distancing.
o Strengthen IPC and OHS at the facility level.
o Health education, promotion, and community engagement to empower the communities to protect themselves from SARS-Cov-2.