Hospital short-staffed during Covid-19 crisis

Groote Schuur Hospital.

Since Groote Schuur Hospital opened its Covid-19 unit at the end of March, 69 hospital staff have tested positive for the virus.

The staff are from various departments, according to hospital spokesman Alaric Jacobs.

“The staff’s main concern is that there is anxiety and fear that they might get Covid-19,” he said.

Mr Jacobs said there was enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff and there were programmes to help them cope emotionally.

The work stations of staff who had come down with Covid-19 had been decontaminated immediately, he said.

Staff with Covid-19 had to self-isolate immediately for 14 days.

The hospital’s head of nursing, Aghmat Mohammad, said nurses were at the highest risk for Covid-19.

“When nurses or any other staff members get infected, it is hard to replace the workforce especially with the amount of Covid-19 patients that are coming to the hospital,” he said, adding that the hospital sometimes had to rely on a nursing agency.

“Every day we need to go to the drawing board to plan for the future during this crisis.”

Provincial Department of Health spokesman Mark van der Heever said all staff had been given Covid-19 safety guidelines, and PPE had been issued to those facing higher risk. Staff were advised to exercise physical distancing and they had access to Red Dot taxis – a taxi service using regularly sanitised vehicles – to get to and from work

Meanwhile, the Groote Schuur’s paediatric services are being moved in phases to the Red Cross War Memorial Hospital.

Red Cross spokesman Dwayne Evans said the move would free up resources at Groote Schuur to fight Covid-19, and would include the transfer of six endocrine beds, four neurosurgery rehabilitation beds and 10 general paediatric beds.

“This will include the relevant staffing and equipment for these services,” he said.

Red Cross CEO Dr Matodzi Mukosi said: “We are all part of the same family in health care, and we will assist where we can, and this will ensure that vulnerable paediatric patients continue to receive world class care and treatment.”

Caregivers of Groote Schuur paediatric diabetes patients who are affected by this move and have questions should call the Red Cross Diabetes Clinic at 021 658 5035 on weekdays between 8am and 3pm or 021 658 5111 for emergencies.