In line with plans to get Gauteng’s health system ready for an expected surge in Covid-19 cases, the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development is ramping up initiatives to increase the number of existing hospital beds and wards.
With the continuing increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng, and a steadily approaching winter season, concerns of the pandemic overwhelming the health system are being urgently attended to through an aggressive emergency construction plan, said Gauteng Infrastructure Development and Property Development MEC Tasneem Motara.
The Gauteng provincial government intends providing a total of 3 056 beds within its portfolio of facilities, complemented by 1 126 beds from external entities.
Some eight construction sites of special Covid-19 quarantine wards have been inspected in various health facilities across the province in anticipation of the expected severe Covid-19 cases that might require hospitalisation and self-quarantine.
This comes as concerns are raised over whether existing health facilities will be able to cope with the expected demand.
“The construction of special Covid-19 wards within existing hospitals and clinics follows a decision by the Gauteng Provincial Command Council to undertake an emergency operation of building additional health infrastructure space to accommodate the growing number of patients affected by the global pandemic,” she explained.
“We are preparing for the worst case scenario and we are leaving nothing to chance. We are mindful of the potential impact of increased demand for health facilities and we are working tirelessly to be ready for any eventuality,” Motara continued.
Currently, dozens of wards are being converted into intensive care units and isolation wards at the George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, where 13 wards are being refurbished.
Two wards have been established at the Tshwane District Hospital, in the Pretoria central business district, while several wards have also been refurbished at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, in Soweto.
A ward has been converted at the Discoverers Community Health Centre, in Florida, and a 12-bed temporary quarantine facility has been built at the Mamelodi Hospital, in Tshwane.
The initiative also includes the construction of additional space at external sites such as the 500-bed Nasrec facility, in Johannesburg,
The provincial government is also undertaking a major refurbishment of the 175-bed mothballed AngloGold Ashanti Hospital, in Carletonville, through a lease arrangement.
The AngloGold Ashanti Hospital refurbishment will comprise 22 wards.
“The four-pillar provincial strategy of building sufficient space in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic involves refurbishment of existing wards in hospitals and clinics, conversion of underutilised wards into dedicated facilities, the use of alternative construction methods to complement existing capacity, and acquiring additional space at external facilities,” said Motara
Some of the projects will be ready for handover by the middle of May 2020, while the rest will also be accelerated in line with the required health infrastructure standards, concluded Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development acting head Richard Makhumisani.