Despite assurances by the Gauteng government that there is still bed capacity at hospitals, healthcare experts have disputed this, with one describing the situation as a catastrophe.
The province is currently the epicentre of COVID-19 in the country and its healthcare system finds itself grappling with the spike in cases. The provincial health department admitted it’s under pressure just recently but stressed it still had the capacity to cope – and that hospitals were only 70% full.
Wits University’s Professor Guy Richards has said however that the claim is not true and hospitals in the province are in fact, packed.
“The hospitals are all completely full. If we talk about the public hospitals, as we know Charlotte (Maxeke) is closed, Chris Hani Baragwanath is full. They’re already full of patients that should have been at Charlotte Maxeke. Kalafong is full, Helen Joseph is 110% full and they have got patients in tents outside,” he said in an interview with eNCA.
If Professor Richards’ remarks are anything to go by, Gauteng’s healthcare system has reached crisis mode and while certain interventions have been made, including creating additional wards at hospitals, it has apparently done little to ease capacity constraints.
“There are no beds in private and certainly I get appeals all day to use influence to try and get people admitted into private hospitals. They have opened four wards (of 25 beds each) at Chris Baragwanath Hospital. There are another 16 wards that could be open but have not been commissioned”
Wits University’s Professor Guy Richards
Richards added that even the four new wards at Chris Baragwanath Hospital are full and that the situation is so dire, some patients have had to be treated at home with oxygen.
The latest development comes as Gauteng’s Health MEC Dr. Nomathemba Mokgethi had said they were not overwhelmed and were managing the increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations.
“Our system might be under pressure, but we still have the will and enough capacity to cope with the demand. We are adding more healthcare personnel to make sure more available beds are fully functional,” Mokgethi said.