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Private hospital erects emergency patient area in parking lot

31 December 2020 - 06:00 By belinda pheto
Eugene Marais hospital in Pretoria has set up an overflow area for its emergency services in the undercover parking lot. (Generic hospital image)
Eugene Marais hospital in Pretoria has set up an overflow area for its emergency services in the undercover parking lot. (Generic hospital image)
Image: Eugene Coetzee

A private hospital has set up a 10-bed holding area in the undercover parking lot to cope with an increasing number of people seeking medical care in Pretoria.

Life Eugene Marais Hospital has bolstered capacity in a bid to limit any delays in treating patients arriving at its emergency unit.

Life health care regional manager Johan Holder explained that the holding area was set up to provide patients with the care they required until they could be accommodated inside the hospital or transferred to a suitable facility.  

Holder said like the majority of health care facilities in Tshwane, Life Eugene Marais Hospital adopted the measure to respond to increased pressure to treat patients.

“Human resources and equipment are under pressure and there are limitations on the number of patients that can be accommodated within our hospital,” he said. To further increase capacity, Holder said elective surgery had been halted and additional units had been opened to care for Covid-19 patients.

Holder said Covid-19 patients had been increasing since the beginning of December. “With the second surge, we are seeing a significant increase in Covid-19 admissions; however, we continue to care for patients who require medical treatment outside of Covid-19 related care.”

He urged citizens to help all hospitals combat the virus by not neglecting to wear face masks, by following social distancing and proper hand hygiene practices.

“Adhering to these safety measures is in the best interest of your health and the health of your loved ones and community. We wish to thank our doctors, nurses, health care workers and employees for their tireless efforts in managing our hospital and caring for our patients under the current circumstances,” he said.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that the number of infections was getting out of hand and hospitals were filling up. “At the moment all the private hospitals are full and now people need to be transferred to government hospitals,” he said.

Mkhize announced that in a few days, the government would welcome 2,367 medical interns and 1,693 medical community service practitioners as part of a 7,895-strong community service workforce.

“This will provide relief to our exhausted front-line workers.”

Chairperson of the South African Medical Association (Sama) Dr Angelique Coetzee said with the increased number of patients needing care in hospitals, doctors in the private and public sector were overwhelmed. Many hospitals were running on skeleton staff as some staff were on leave and others in isolation because they were infected with Covid-19.

National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) data indicated on December 30 that  348 health workers were being hospitalised due to Covid-19. 

Coetzee said they were expecting infections to rise in mid-January as more people returned home from holiday and went back to work.