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W Cape Health working with private hospitals to use ICU beds for Covid-19

3 June 2020 9:04 AM

Health MEC NomaFrench Mbombo gives an update on the state of preparedness in the province after Health Minister Mkhize's visit.

National Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize's two-day visit to the Western Cape, which has the highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in South Africa, with more than 65 %of the country's infections.

Minister Zweli Mkhize visited the field hospitals set up at the CTICC, Brackengate, as well as the Old Mutual isolation and quarantine site, and the new Khayelitsha hospital in the centre of a Cape Flats hotspot.

Mkhize was however positive, saying the province was preparing well, and that the Western Cape could be an example of how the infection rate was almost out of control, but has since been reined in.

The Western Cape currently accounts for 65.9% of infections, the highest in the country.

To date, there are 23095 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the province of which 10 097 are active cases. 12 436 people have recovered.

568 of the 755 Covid-19 deaths are in the Western Province.

Close to 1000 Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital in the province and a further 179 are in ICU or high care.

Health MEC NomaFrench Mbombo accompanied Minister Mkhize during his visit and talks to Refilwe Moloto about key points that emerged.

She says the visit focused on ICU beds because public health systems globally usually have fewer ICU beds than private hospitals. Before the onset of Covid-19 the Western Cape public hospitals had about 150 ICU beds, she adds.

With projections and modelling it has been estimated the province will need over 900 ICU beds. 300 ICU beds were required from the private sector.

A key issue is not only the number of beds but the need for ICU trained staff, she adds.

We needed the national health minister to sign off on the tariffs...because the private hospitals cannot charge us the same medical aid rates.

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Health MEC - Western Cape

She says this was confirmed last night and the province can continue negotiations with private hospitals related to aspects such as the service level agreements, indemnity, and rates.

She explains as more beds are needed, patients coming in to the public health sector will be transferred to private ICU.

It is a package. You transfer a person to the private hospital and comes with everything, which includes the clinician, the specialists. Only the patient goes there.

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Health MEC - Western Cape

300 ICU beds will be made available from each private health facility.

She says the recent revision of the understanding of comorbidities linked to Coid-19 complication risk is not new.

In our case, the analysis that was done by the clinicians was over 55 (years of age) and when you have existing medical conditions, specifically in our analysis, diabetes, and hypertension irrespective of age means you have a high risk.

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Health MEC - Western Cape

RELATED: No more Covid-19 testing if you’re younger than 55

She says the decision to test only those over 55 was necessary in order to prioritise those cases given the limited testing capacity..

We had to prioritse the high-risk cases. We don't want a situation where the patient is staying longer in the hospital whilst waiting for the results. It becomes difficult for clinicians to manage the patient holistically.

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Health MEC - Western Cape

Listen below:


3 June 2020 9:04 AM

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