Maverick Citizen: Eastern Cape

Eastern Cape Field Hospital Admits First Covid-19 Patients

By Estelle Ellis 3 July 2020

Nxiweni Field Hospital. (Photo: Mike Holmes)

The first field hospital to open its doors in the Eastern Cape, the Rev Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital, admitted its first patients on Wednesday night. Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane also announced this week that his government intends to build six more of these facilities to handle the influx of Covid-19 patients.

The Eastern Cape Department of Health’s communications director, Siyanda Manana, said they admitted five patients. Four men were admitted from Livingstone Hospital and a woman from Life St Georges.

By Friday morning admissions increased to eight with another three patients being referred from Uitenhage Provincial, Greenacres Hospital and Livingstone Hospital.

He said the fact that the hospital was now open for admission provided much relief to facilities in Nelson Mandela Bay.

“Hospitals are having problems with bed availability due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

According to statistics released by the National Department of Health there were 30,603 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus in the province by 2 July. The province currently accounts for 18% of new cases.

Manana added that administration officers have been appointed to handle admissions.

The hospital will be using a paperless system designed by Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Community Technology.

“Packaged food was served on time by the service provider,” he said.

He urged patients to first get a referral and not to arrive at the field hospital for help.

“The field hospital does not accept walk-ins but admits patients from hospitals on a referral basis.”

The first phase of the hospital has 1,485 beds and can assist patients with acute illness as patients can receive oxygen.

The hospital is situated in the former Port Elizabeth plant for Volkswagen South Africa in the Neave Industrial Area. The building was converted in seven weeks with R100-million in funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and R25-million from Volkswagen with R11-million earmarked to source more testing kits and equipment for the metro. The first phase of the development can accommodate 1,485 patients and upon completion the facility will have the capacity to admit 3,300 patients.

Mabuyane announced at a press conference on Tuesday that the province will build a field hospital per district and also in the other metro, Buffalo City.

“This will give us a combined total of 4,000 medical beds throughout the province,” he said.

During a webinar led by experts from Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth the executive dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Lungile Pepeta said he believed that for every one case found in the metro there are between three and five walking around undiagnosed and unaware that they have the virus.

 “I think the real figure for the metro is probably closer to 30,000 at this

stage,” he said. He said their figures show that every one individual is spreading the virus to two others.

“Our initial calculations that about 50 patients would need ICU care by now is spot on. There are currently 49 Covid-19 cases in ICU. With a doubling rate of 10 days it means that in 10 days we will need 100 beds which we don’t have.” DM/MC

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