Pretoria's Steve Biko hospital under severe strain from Covid patients
Pretoria's Steve Biko Academic Hospital is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, which has been noted since December, says the Gauteng health department.
“The increased number of patients are sicker and require critical care, with some arriving in groups and putting serious pressure on the facility,” the department said.
Some of the patients are coming from private facilities because of lack of space, while others are self-referred from other provinces such as North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
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Provincial health MEC spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed the veracity of images being shared on social media.
Early last year the Gauteng department of health converted Tshwane District Hospital (TDH) into a strictly Covid-19 treating facility in partnership with the Steve Biko hospital, transforming the two hospitals into a complex, said Kekana. This was to increase Covid-19 designated beds within the complex.
“The complex is currently under pressure especially with regards to the patients that require specialist immediate attention and therefore can be treated in only certain hospitals, that are also overwhelmed.”
The department said the Steve Biko emergency unit entrance has an area that has a roof, designed to handle disasters of especially patients in the emergency category Priority3 (P3s), “of which patients whose images are in the social media fall into”.
“Gauteng Health (public and private) has an ambulance diversion system, where upon ambulances get information on what services are under pressure in any of the hospitals. With non Covid-19 patients that service gets utilised but for Covid-19 patients all hospitals are inundated. Covid-19 patients require immediate care.
“The hospital resolved that there will be no diversion of ambulances to other facilities, and no turning away of any patient as long as there is a space that a patient can be attended to fully so as to ensure more people are catered to.”
The facility is also putting up two additional tents to accommodate this increase in the number of patients coming to the facility, said Kekana.
Kekana urged people to adopt health protocols to beat the pandemic.
“We are urging communities not to be complacent. The non-pharmaceutical interventions of wearing of mask, good hand hygiene, sanitising, avoiding closed and crowded places remain central in preventing the further spread of Covid-19.”
Earlier on Sunday, the province said the total number of Covid cases in Gauteng sits at 328,925 with 276,998 recoveries and 6,142 deaths.
A total of 4,033 people are currently hospitalised in the public and private facilities.