Netcare recalls staff as Covid-19 second wave intensifies

Limpopo is currently experiencing an unprecedented demand in hospitalisation, with Netcare’s facility in Polokwane more than 100% occupied.

Private hospital group Netcare has moved to assure South Africans of its capacity to deal with the surging Covid-19 infection numbers.

According to a statement issued by the group, it has seen “a heartening decrease in hospitalisations in the Eastern Cape” for four weeks in a row.

“It is expected that through the month of January the region will recover to the levels of Covid-19 last seen before the second wave,” they said.

“Similarly, Netcare hospitals in the Western Cape have also started to reflect a plateau in the number of patient admissions.”

However, the group’s chief executive officer (CEO), Dr Richard Friedland warned: “Limpopo is currently experiencing an unprecedented demand in hospitalisation with Netcare’s facility in Polokwane, Netcare Pholoso Hospital, more than 100% occupied.”

The group has commissioned a temporary assessment area that can accommodate up to 80 patients.

Recently, the Life Healthcare group said it has also resorted to temporary patient screening areas as it was also taking strain during the second wave of the pandemic.

ALSO READ: Life Healthcare hospitals under pressure with additional screening areas the norm

Friedland added that Netcare facilities throughout KwaZulu-Natal continued to experience “an unprecedented demand on bed capacity” and that this was expected to continue throughout January.

“In Gauteng we are, as expected, already experiencing an alarming rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients across all our facilities and this is expected to rapidly worsen over the next two weeks,” he cautioned.

“Netcare has called all staff back from leave and is expecting to have staff levels back to full complement by the end of this week,” he said.

The company has in addition recruited several doctors and clinical associates to assist hospitals and physicians and has also employed a number of social workers to assist with patient liaison in order to support patients and families so that clinical staff can focus solely on their clinical duties.

“We have also advertised for students to assist part-time. We have received over 3500 applications and are currently processing the applications so that the students can be deployed in various hospitals in non-clinical roles,” said Friedland.·

According to Friedland, Netcare has procured an additional 1100 oxygenators, which would arrive in the country this week.

“The machines, which can produce up to four litres of oxygen per minute each, brings the total fleet of oxygenators to 1400 and will decrease the burden on the oxygen supply within our hospitals. We have also purchased an additional 100 high flow nasal devices, which will arrive in mid-January. This brings the total number of high-flow nasal devices in the group to 626. In addition, we have a total of 1105 ventilators in the group,” he said.

“We have purchased adequate supplies of the appropriate drugs and consumables, as well as personal protective equipment to last us throughout this second wave,” he noted.

Friedland noted that the newly imposed lockdown and restrictions on alcohol sales had had a dampening effect on violence and accident-related trauma cases, which had eased the burden within the group’s accident and emergency departments.

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