'It's a miracle what we achieved' - Nasrec field hospital manager

Dr Vis Naidoo takes the SAHRC's Buang Jones on a tour of the Nasrec field hospital.
Dr Vis Naidoo takes the SAHRC's Buang Jones on a tour of the Nasrec field hospital.
Azarrah Karrim, News24
  • Dr Vis Naidoo is proud of the operation to complete the Nasrec field hospital in a short period of time.
  • Naidoo has worked for the Department of Health for 37 years.
  • "We can be proud, as the public sector, with what we did… What we achieved is unreal," Naidoo said.

Facility manager of the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg, Dr Vis Naidoo, has described the operation as a "miracle", saying the public sector had managed to build the facility within a short space of time.

Naidoo was speaking during an inspection by the South African Human Rights Commission, who were assessing the readiness of the hospital to deal with the increase in Covid-19 infections.

"It's a miracle what we achieved in the public sector within six weeks.

"We started off with 600 beds and, by mid-August, we will increase to 1 500 [beds]," Naidoo said.

READ | Covid-19: SAHRC set to probe Gauteng health spending amid corruption claims

He said the hospital currently has an occupancy of 25 patients, with a bed capacity of 600, including 130 oxygenated beds.

Patient occupancy is expected to increase as the province approaches its peak, Naidoo said.

SAHRC's Buang Jones inspects an oxygen outlet at t
SAHRC's Buang Jones inspects an oxygen outlet at the Nasrec field hospital.
SAHRC's Buang Jones being showed how oxygen will b
SAHRC's Buang Jones being showed how oxygen will be piped through to the beds at the Nasrec field hospital.
A health worker gets ready for their shift at the
A health worker gets ready for their shift at the Nasrec field hospital.
Quarantine site at the Nasrec field hospital in Jo
Quarantine site at the Nasrec field hospital in Johannesburg.
A cleaner at the Nasrec field hospital (News24/Aza
A cleaner at the Nasrec field hospital.
Quarantine ward at the Nasrec field hospital (News
Quarantine ward at the Nasrec field hospital.
A bed at the Nasrec field hospital (News24/Azarrah
A bed at the Nasrec field hospital (News24/Azarrah Karrim)

While the field hospital is still adding bed capacity, Naidoo said it is expected to be completed in mid-August.

"To come here, all you need is to be Covid-19 positive with your results; you can either come self-referred or you can be referred down from any government or non-government institution.

"All you need to bring is a supply of clothing to last you for the duration of your stay, which has now been decreased from 14 days to 10. The rest of the things are supplied," he added.

Naidoo said there were activities to keep patients entertained during their stay, including free WiFi, indoor and outdoor recreation, a games room, a TV room and a library.

The facility has experienced two deaths so far, with a recovery rate of 70%.

"Our youngest patient was 14 years old and the oldest was 93, and both of them went home," Naidoo said.

The Nasrec field hospital was mandated in late April, with the team given one month to install 600 beds for people who could not self-isolate at home.

WATCH | 'If I had my way I would've quarantined at home' - Patient relishes leaving field hospital

While housing isolation patients, it is now also a step-down facility for major hospitals in the province, to relieve some of the pressure on the healthcare system during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The facility is staffed by about 40 healthcare professionals, who work on a voluntary basis, with one professional nurse and five auxiliary nurses per 100 beds per shift.

The facility is increasing its bed capacity and the healthcare staff capacity will come with this, Naidoo explained.

Naidoo, who has worked for the Department of Health for 37 years, said he was proud of what they had accomplished.

"We can be proud, as the public sector, with what we did… What we achieved there is unreal, I can take off my hat to the department," Naidoo said.

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