Urgent appeal for help

Gauteng doctors make urgent public appeal for lifesaving oxygen concentrators

By Estelle Ellis 10 July 2020

File photo: A woman breathes into an oxygen mask at an undisclosed hospital in South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images)

Doctors have made an urgent appeal for people to lend them their oxygen concentrators or to donate to an account for the rental of these machines as they try to address the oxygen needs of Covid-19 patients at the Nasrec Field Hospital while the facility is being expanded.

Gauteng is currently the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic with around 5,000 new cases a day. The province is experiencing a public hospital crisis as all state hospitals have reached capacity and there is an urgent need to assist patients with oxygen.

A collective of healthcare professionals who are volunteering at the Nasrec Field Hospital has sent out an urgent call to members of the public to lend them their oxygen concentrators or assist with financial support to enable them to rent these machines so they can also help patients who are more seriously ill.

Lynne Wilkinson, who is part of the collective, said they have not been able to find any oxygen concentrators at any suppliers in the province.

“We need to get oxygen going at beds in Nasrec,” she said. “Suppliers tell us that private people have bought them up to keep them at home in case they need them. If you bought one or know of someone with one and it is sitting in your home, can you loan it to us for a week while more stock comes into the country? We will give it back as soon as you need it,” she added.

She explained that oxygen concentrators filtered surrounding air, compressing it to the required density, and then delivered purified medical grade oxygen to the patient. Oxygen concentrators cost R16,000 per machine. As they use air and not bottled oxygen there is no need to purchase oxygen cylinders.

She added that all borrowed machines will be properly disinfected before they are returned. She said 60 volunteer doctors, nurses and clinical associates have volunteered to do shifts at the field hospital this week but they were looking for more volunteers. “All personal protective equipment will be supplied,” she said.

The Nasrec Field Hospital currently has 450 low acuity beds for patients who are self-caring and do not require oxygen but as the number of cases in the province increased a further 800 beds and more staff have been commissioned. Wilkinson said the beds will have piped oxygen and human resources but this is taking time to complete.

Currently patients who are deteriorating are being sent to tertiary hospitals or for palliative care.

Wilkinson said that to accommodate a number of patients who need oxygen they plan to create a temporary high care unit using 30 to 100 beds with supplemental oxygen by using oxygen concentrators. “We aim to have the first oxygen concentrators in place this weekend (11 and 12 July).

She said members of the public can help by making a financial contribution. “Oxygen saves lives. We require funding to source this oxygen as well as for other expenses related to this critically important endeavour. Any contribution large or small will assist in making the ultimate difference,” she added.

At the time of going to press Wilkinson had secured 10 oxygenators but they needed R180 000 to purchase them.

If you can help you can get in touch by emailing [email protected] or sending a WhatsApp message to Wilkinson on 072 509 7947 or contacting Dr Tom Boyles via WhatsApp on 079 108 1876.

The bank details are:

Account Name: WitsHealth
Bank: FNB
Branch code: 255005
Account no. 54861165389
Reference: AD51 Oxygen

Swift code is FIRNZAJJ
International branch code is 21055400

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