Cape Town hospital assures public that it is ready for Covid-19 patients despite reports

2020-03-22 13:55
A general view of people testing for Covid-19 at a Cape Town clinic.

A general view of people testing for Covid-19 at a Cape Town clinic. (Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)

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Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital (NCBMH) in Cape Town has assured members of the public that it is ready to accept Covid-19 patients despite reports that a patient was turned away.

"At no stage were people in need of emergency medical assistance, including Covid-19 positive cases, refused care at our hospital's emergency department, and we sincerely apologise to the couple who were kept waiting for further advisement, for any inconvenience and anxiety that this has caused them," NCBMH general manager Chris Tilney said in a statement on Sunday.

This comes after Ground Up reported that Sheila Moore, 71, and her husband Richard Moore, 73, tested positive for the virus a few days after they returned from the United Kingdom. The publication further reported that Sheila asked staff at NCBMH to admit her but she was allegedly turned away from the state-of-the-art hospital because "it hadn't prepared quarantine facilities at the 248-bed hospital".

Tygerberg Hospital

The couple were instead told to go to Tygerberg Hospital. According to Sheila, a doctor at the NCMBH contacted her and apologised profusely over the events repeating that "the hospital was not prepared for admitting Covid-19 patients". Sheila was later admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital as the hospital agreed to assess and accept Sheila without hesitation. The hospital however claims that this was a misunderstanding.

"A misunderstanding may have arisen when the independent doctor who is responsible for the running of the emergency department, quite correctly, and in accordance with the protocols regarding our response to suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, requested the couple to wait while he consulted with clinical colleagues," Tilney explained.


The hospital further asserts that because this was not an emergency admission, the doctor involved was confirming protocols to ensure that all safety measures were in place to ensure the safety of staff and other patients.

"During this time the doctor at NCBMH remained in discussion with the Department of Health (DoH) representative and advised that NCBMH was ready and awaiting the patient.

"The DoH representative advised that Groote Schuur Hospital's clinical team had agreed that they could also assist and that the choice of facility should be left to the patient," Tilney added.

The hospital maintains that it is fully prepared to accept Covid-19 cases with the appropriate facilities and trained staff in managing safely.

"We have implemented all the necessary precautionary measures in close consultation with the DoH and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases as part of the national response to the unfolding Covid-19 outbreak," Tilney concluded.

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