Are hospitals more dangerous because of COVID-19? Evander Hospital certainly became a place to avoid!
We all tend to think that a hospital is a safe place. One that we go to when you are ill or have an emergency.
During the COVID-19 pandemic it became clear that hospitals are increasingly dangerous places to be.
Mrs S Gwarube from the DA asked the Minister of health (in parliament) the following:
What total number of field hospitals have been built in each province since 1 March 2020.
The answer is simply shocking.
On June 26 the Minister replied that none were built in Mpumalanga.
The reporting from the Mpumalanga department of health is also not very accurate. The Bulletin asked the department about their readiness for the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is the question and answer:
Do you perhaps have a statement regarding your readiness in Mpumalanga as well as the state of the field hospitals.
Response. The Department is ready to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department developed plans to mitigate the surge of COVID-19 in the province. We have made available quarantine and isolation sites across the three districts, and also deployed Community Health Workers to conduct screening. We are working with the Department of Public Works to establish field hospitals. This question was answered on July 21st.
There are several quarantine units in the area, but they are not equipped to handle any medical problems.
We have several hospitals in our area. It became clear that the COVID-19 cases are threatening to flood the hospitals. Several hospitals are in a state of preparedness, but several are not. It would appear that Evander Hospital is totally swamped with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bulletin is aware of an employee that took the test at Evander hospital, 3 weeks and a day ago, and still have no results provided to him.
Evander Hospital is an example of how poor management are endangering the lives of the patients.
The Bulletin investigated allegations that the hospital is a crisis waiting to happen.
What we have uncovered is a hospital that have no control over the surge of COVID-19 cases
Allegations were made about Evander Hospital to The Bulletin that stated the following:
- There is a shortage of staff members, both doctors and nursing staff. The shortages can be contributed mainly to the mandatory quarantine period after having been tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
- This staff shortage is creating a very volatile situation at Evander Hospital. Information at The Bulletins disposal is that patients sometimes have to go without receiving proper medication. Wound dressings are not changed due to the shortage of staff and patients sometimes must forcefully skip a meal.
- The Bulletin also learned that 40 to 50 patients are sometimes left in the care of only two staff nurses.
- The Staff nurses left to tend to patients are not qualified to dispense medicine according to information received.
- Patients that visit the Evander Hospital for testing are not triaged and told to wait outside. No vitals are taken.
- Screening stations at the hospital entrances are inadequate as symptomatic (COVID-19 symptoms) patients venture past screening stations with no effort to block them from doing so. They would venture into already overcrowded waiting areas without being separated from the other patients to undergo COVID-19 testing and isolation. At certain times there are no functioning screening stations at entry points and patients and family members are free to enter the hospital at free will.
- The Bulletin was told that after 14H00 there are no staff available as all would leave work at that time.
- The Evander Hospital management refuses to concentrate on the COVID-19 pandemic and continues with non-urgent and non-emergency services.
- Social distancing practices are not adhered to and the hospital is overcrowded most of the time.
- About a week ago 37 staff members tested positive.
- The Bulletin also learned that Staff members are apparently expected to continue to work and not self-isolate. They are told that they are not a “close contact” even if they work in close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19.
- Patients that did not make appointments are bringing family members with them and exacerbating the overcrowding problem.
Questions sent to the Department of health, to both the spokesperson for the MEC and the Spokesperson for the department were not responded to at the time of placing this article. This is despite promises that a response would be compiled and sent to The Bulletin by 09H00 this morning. We are therefore posting these allegations without any response from the Mpumalanga Department of Health.
Life Cosmos Hospital responded in the following manner to The Bulletins questions on their readiness:
Could you please confirm the availability of beds in your Kosmos Hospital in Witbank?
As the number of cases fluctuates around the country, all our hospitals in the various provinces are experiencing pressure on COVID-19 admissions at one point or another given the increase in infection rate. It is important to note that capacity in any hospital is based on a number of factors, not only patient and bed numbers.
All hospitals also need to balance available staffing – nurses, specialists and allied healthcare professionals – with the need to accommodate and treat patients who are admitted for various health-related conditions. The overall bed capacity cannot be simply correlated to the number of Covid-19 patients that can be admitted as we also admit for other conditions, i.e. trauma, emergency medicine, maternity etc.
Our hospital management teams remain in constant contact with one another, their doctors and other healthcare professionals and private hospital groups to ensure that additional beds are available should this be required. Life Cosmos Hospital is licensed by the Department of Health as a 261-bed facility of which there are a total of 30 ICU beds for medical and surgical cases.
Do you perhaps have a statement regarding your readiness in the Mpumalanga area in particular or perhaps countrywide?
As with all our hospitals across South Africa, Life Cosmos Hospital in eMalahleni and Life Midmed Hospital in Middleburg remain open and operational for admission of patients and treatment of medical emergencies. Each hospital is using its facilities in the most efficient manner to provide the most appropriate care to the maximum amount of people.
We continue to provide quality care to our patients who require hospital services outside of COVID-19 related care such as trauma, emergency medicine, maternity, cardiac etc. To make sure that the situation is managed as best as possible, each Life Healthcare hospital has a Doctor COVID Committee that works closely with hospital management in the daily and ongoing clinical decisions in the interest of patients, staff and doctors.
There are daily operational briefings and live data to keep all the management teams appraised of facility status and enhanced collaboration between hospitals in the country to ensure best practice and shared learnings.
A capacity forum has been formed to deal with capacity considerations, including equipment and our COVID-19 task team is continuously assessing the situation and making sure that our facilities and employees across the country have all the required resources to treat patients who are affected by the virus and those who are not.
Thank you Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, General manager, Emergency medicine, Life Healthcare for your response in this matter.
We also spoke to the General Manager of Emalahleni Private Hospital that confirmed their readiness. The GM confirmed that all their allocated Covid-19 beds were full. This was during the latter part of July.
Mediclinic Highveld also received its share of criticism regarding their COVID-19 preparedness and protocols.
In response to The Bulletin’s questions we received the following response:
- How full are the facilities with regards to the COVID-19 allocated beds?
- What is the procedure that you follow when receiving a patient that tested positive? If you have space and if you have none?
Dr Stefan Smuts, Chief Clinical Officer of Mediclinic Southern Africa, responded by saying “While we can confirm that Mediclinic Highveld is currently operating at full capacity, with an increased demand for intensive care and high care beds, it is important to note that this situation remains fluid and is continuously being monitored across all bed types and across all hospitals in the region to ensure the optimal use of available resources and continuity of patient care.”
“We would also like to reassure the community that our Emergency Centre remains open to stabilise any patient in an extreme emergency, irrespective of age or comorbidities, and regardless of the hospital divert status. Once the patient’s condition is stable, the individual will then be referred to the closest most appropriate facility if required,” Dr Smuts said in their response, “Mediclinic Highveld is ready to safely receive patients in a medical emergency. We therefore encourage our community to seek medical care if they are ill or in pain.”
The Bulletin was told that no sanitising had been done for a while at the hospital while the positive case count is mounting.
MEDICLINIC CONFIRMS COVID-19 CLEANING MEASURES
“Mediclinic Highveld can confirm that in addition to our existing infection prevention and control procedures, additional cleaning measures were put in place at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Said Dr Stefan Smuts, Chief Clinical Officer of Mediclinic Southern Africa.
“The hospital has implemented additional cleaning rounds in all rooms. High touch areas in the hospital have been identified with cleaning protocols put into place to address these areas. Staff areas, bathrooms, pharmacy, reception and theatre have regular cleaning scheduled throughout the day. A checklist is signed by the appointed cleaner after each round to allow monitoring of these measures.”
Treatment areas within the COVID-19 unit have additional disinfection processes to further manage the risk of transmission.
While it is very concerning that certain health-related institutions are clearly having a problem in coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic such as the Evander Hospital, others have clearly made extensive efforts in coping with the Pandemic.
The Bulletin will continue to monitor the complaints and criticism as well as the compliments levelled at our health institutions. Let us hope that Evander Hospital will show a drastic improvement in the management of the facility.
VISIT Mpumalanga Department of Heaths’s Facebook page HERE