New ICU ward at Charlotte Maxeke could change Gauteng's Covid-19 trajectory - Prof

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Health staff who will be working in the new ICU ward at Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg.
Health staff who will be working in the new ICU ward at Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg.
Azarrah Karrim
  • Staff at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital showcased a new 29-bed ICU, established with the help of the First Rand Spire Fund.
  • According to Professor Mervyn Mer, the unit could change the trajectory of the province as it deals with Covid-19 patients.
  • Mer said South Africa was lagging behind in critical care compared to high-income countries.

A new 29-bed ICU ward at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital is expected to double capacity and change Gauteng's trajectory as it deals with Covid-19 patients, according to Professor Mervyn Mer, the clinical head of critical care and the adult multi-disciplinary intensive care unit.

The Gauteng health department, the First Rand Spire Fund - which assisted with the establishment of the unit - and senior hospital staff revealed the new unit on Thursday, which is also fitted with modern intensive care equipment.

READ | Covid-19: 'It'll be overcrowded in hospitals' - Gauteng MEC predicts 300 000 cases by end of August

Mer said the hospital's ICU was full of Covid-19 patients, and that the new unit would increase capacity.

"What this particular project has done is change the number of beds available, virtually doubling them from a general intensive care perspective.

"We turn over about 2 500 critically ill patients a year across a variety of spectra," he said.

"[T]his will allow us to expand that and offer patients the opportunity of having critical care services when they are severely ill and reliant on life support devices. Many of those patients we are salvaging."

He said, compared to high-income countries, South Africa was lagging behind when it comes to critical care, with only 80 critical care specialists for a population of 60 million.

"We also don't have the same number of critical care beds and there is no single hospital in any major metropolitan area or even regional area that cannot function adequately without suitable critical care services," Mer said.

He added: "We are excited about this new expansion. I think down the line it is going to change the trajectory of not only this hospital, but of the hospitals around which it drains because we're going to be able to enhance services. It's going to change the trajectory for the province".

CEO of Charlotte Maxeke hospital, Gladys Bogoshi (
CEO of Charlotte Maxeke hospital Gladys Bogoshi.
Professor Mervyn Mer shows us an example of a bed
Professor Mervyn Mer shows an example of a bed in the new ICU ward at Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg. (Azarrah Karrim/News24)

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CEO of the hospital, Gladys Bogoshi, said they were ready to treat Covid-19 patients, but added that "nobody knows what the surge is going to bring us".

"That is why, for us, continuing to maintain social distancing and washing your hands will reduce the number of patients who will need care and ensure that everybody gets the service that they need," she said.

She expressed her gratitude to the First Rand Spire Fund.

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