Paper patient folders, visitors banned at Cape Town's new Covid-19 hospital

26 May 2020 - 12:25 By Sipokazi Fokazi
The Cape Town International Convention Centre's Hall 4 is one of the exhibition halls being turned into a Covid-19 field hospital.
The Cape Town International Convention Centre's Hall 4 is one of the exhibition halls being turned into a Covid-19 field hospital.
Image: Esa Alexander

For music lovers, Hall 4 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is better known as Kippies, the biggest and most vibrant venue during the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

But in two weeks it will become a “beacon of hope and recovery” for Covid-19 patients.

Work to turn the convention centre into an 850-bed hospital is well under way, with about 350 beds and oxygen lines already fitted. The first patients will arrive on June 8.

During a brief media tour on Tuesday with Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and senior health department officials, construction workers could be seen preparing to put finishing touches to the gigantic ward.

Winde said the facility, the biggest Covid-19 hospital in the country, will be a temporary home to patients who are not sick enough to receive high care but not well enough go home.

The hospital will be fully digital. There will be no paper folders for patients to minimise the spread of infection, and patients will have computer tablets to stay connected to their families. No visitors will be allowed.

Winde, who has just come of isolation following contact with eNCA cameraman Lungile Tom, who died of Covid-19, said the increasing number of infections in the Western Cape showed the disease was not a hoax, as some had suggested.

More than 550 Covid-19 patients are in hospitals around the Western Cape, with 140 in intensive care.

“This shows the seriousness of dealing with what our scenario planning has told us. It’s coming our way and we can see it in the province. We can see those numbers. This is definitely not a hoax. This is a real thing,” said Winde.

“Walking in here today gives a sense of relief as you see the expanse of what is happening here, the number of beds. As you see the numbers climbing in the system, the number of beds and ICU beds being filled, you wonder whether we are going to complete this in time.

"Then you come here and you see what’s been happening and you get the sense of relief and accomplishment, and definitely a sense that we are prepared.”

 Over the past few weeks provincial authorities and Winde’s office have been doing reviews, “rechecking and asking specialists to look at our numbers again”.

The province was due to do another review on Tuesday to determine whether the province’s four Covid-19 hospitals would be enough, given the rising numbers of patients. 

Western Cape premier Alan Winde inspected the Covid-19 field hospital on May 26.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde inspected the Covid-19 field hospital on May 26.
Image: Esa Alexander

More than 1,200 volunteer medics had shown interest in assisting the province, and some would be deployed at the CTICC facility.

Dr Anwar Kharwa, senior manager responsible for facilities management in the Western Cape, said recruitment of staff was at an advanced stage, and more than 300 nurses were expected to work at the CTICC field hospital in addition to specialists, physiotherapists, psychologists, radiologists and social workers.

Patients will be transferred from acute hospitals, including Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Tygerberg, Somerset and Groote Schuur.   

The CTICC field hospital would have digital x-rays, giving doctors instant access to patients' radiology records, he said.

Dr Anwar Kharwa, senior manager responsible for facilities management in the Western Cape, said more than 300 nurses were expected to work at the new field hospital.
Dr Anwar Kharwa, senior manager responsible for facilities management in the Western Cape, said more than 300 nurses were expected to work at the new field hospital.
Image: Esa Alexander

"Each bed has a unique number linked to a patient and nurse call system. Wherever they may find themselves, whether in bed or in a shower or toilet, if they do have a challenge we will be able to track and know exactly where the patient is in terms of providing support,” he said.

Kharwa said when the hospital was eventually dismantled, its beds would be spread across provincial hospitals.

The manager of the CTICC field hospital, Theodore Abrahams, said onsite training would start next week and focus mainly on infection control and emotional readiness.

“We want this facility as a beacon of hope and recovery. It’s been a challenging time with lots of sleepless nights, but also it’s been an exciting time to see everyone working together to make sure we are ready to deal with this pandemic," he said.


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