South African Hospital management blamed for staff Covid infections

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The rising number of patients needing admission in Gauteng in South Africa have put hospital management and staff on their toes as beds are running out and healthcare workers demand adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs) to deal with the virus.

At Tembisa Hospital on the East Rand, CEO Lekopane Mogaladi told the Sowetan on Monday that of the 159 Covid beds available, 148 of them were occupied.

All 26 Covid-19 intensive care unit beds are occupied, he said.

“To be honest with you, we are overwhelmed. Over the weekend the hospital was full, so we could not take referrals from outside because we did not have oxygen points,” Mogaladi said.

Hospital management is now racing against time to find new beds as the pandemic gathers momentum in the township.

There are currently six Covid-19 wards in the hospital and Mogaladi said two tents would be set up and turned into wards that would accommodate an additional 46 patients.

The hospital screens about 1,300 people on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately with us, the majority of patients that come to the hospital come here very sick,” Mogaladi said.

Health workers at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Diepkloof, Soweto, have complained about the rising numbers of infections among themselves which they believe are linked to the lack of PPEs as those in general wards aren’t equipped with full protective gear.

Over a week ago, 19 people, including porters, nurses and general workers, tested positive for the virus in a ward at Baragwanath.

National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) provincial coordinator Clement Marule accused management of relaxing after the country came out of the hard lockdown and stopped providing all healthcare workers with full PPEs.

“Frontline workers are now under siege due to poor distribution of PPEs. We are seeing increased infections in Bara and George Mukhari Hospital as a result,” Marule said.

A nurse who tested positive also put the blame on hospital management.

“The management has failed the nurses. During the first wave of the pandemic we were all given the same PPEs irrespective of the wards we worked in but now some of us have had to work with plastic aprons, not proper gowns,” she said.

Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi said she would be meeting union representatives to address the issue of PPEs this week.

“The unions want everyone working at Bara to get PPEs and some of the things, including coveralls, have been discontinued and they still want them as PPEs,” Mokgethi said, adding that Gauteng doesn’t have a shortage of PPEs.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital spokesperson Nkosiyethu Mazibuko said: “The risk of Covid is not the same for all workers and the national department of health, the WHO and other medical associations recognised [it is] not the same in all areas. The risk is greater for workers who spend more time with patients and in close proximity.

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