Seek medical attention early, and do your part to flatten the curve

Where and how to seek the level of care you need in the third wave

Friday, June 18 2021

As COVID-19 cases in the country, and particularly in Gauteng, continue to rise, Netcare urges the public to adhere to COVID-19 prevention measures and seek help early if they are unwell. 

“Netcare continues to monitor the situation closely and adjust its strategy to make the most effective use of healthcare resources wherever needed, while maintaining an abundance of caution,” says Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division. 

“With our experience of the first and second waves, Netcare hospitals are well equipped and can quickly maximise capacity with a strong emphasis on safety, to keep healthcare services operating as effectively and efficiently as possible for our all patients. 

“Although the situation remains fluid, at present our facilities in Gauteng are under pressure, while Netcare facilities in all other provinces remain on high alert, but for now have not yet seen a surge in COVID-19 admissions.

“We echo the President’s call for every person to do their part towards flattening the curve of the third wave by maintaining social distancing, the appropriate wearing of masks, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated areas, washing hands regularly and thoroughly, and self-isolating if you may have been exposed to the virus.” 

“Flattening the curve of the third wave and seeking healthcare from a general practitioner early if you or a loved one starts to feel unwell will go a long way towards improving individual health outcomes in many cases, and preventing bottlenecks in accessing emergency care at this critical time,” he says. 

If you start to feel unwell, contact your GP for a virtual or in-person consult immediately
“Medicross medical and dental centres have put extensive precautions in place to keep patients, healthcare professionals and staff as safe as possible, so that they don’t have to be concerned when accessing primary healthcare services,” says Dr Billyy van der Merwe, managing director of Netcare’s primary care division. 

To further support patients during the pandemic, Netcare VirtualCare GP consultations are available with many GPs at Medicross, so that patients can consult a general practitioner over the phone or via secure video link, either on mobile devices or computers, to keep patients in contact with doctors without the need for in-person consultations. 

“In the case of an individual who is concerned they may have COVID-19, for example, the doctor may ask specific questions to assess your risk, advise whether you need to be tested for COVID-19, and give you a referral to a pathology laboratory for testing to be done.” 

“In common with other Netcare group facilities, Medicross medical and dental centres have rigorous preventative precautions in place. This includes, for example, pre-screening, disinfection, and air purification units with three modes of protection: virus-destroying filtration; sterilising UV-C light; and powerful photocatalytic oxidation air purification technology that neutralises pathogens safely,” Dr Van der Merwe adds. 

Unsure if it is a medical emergency? 
“It is always better to be safe than sorry if you suspect you may be experiencing a medical emergency, and in the case of COVID-19 unfortunately many patients appear to be waiting too long to access healthcare, even when they are having a medical emergency,” says Shalen Ramduth, national operations director of Netcare 911. 

“If you are ever unsure of the level of medical care you need, the Netcare 911 national emergency operation centre [EOC] is equipped and ready to provide expert assistance in determining what steps may be necessary, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on 082 911.

“Netcare 911’s EOC has trained emergency medical personnel available to support callers with telehealth patient remotely. This can be significant for clinical decision making and help in the co-ordination of resources to safely transport the patient to hospital where needed.” 

Emergency medical attention
If an individual experiences difficulty breathing or any other signs that could indicate a medical emergency, emergency medical services, such as Netcare 911 and the emergency departments such as those located at Netcare hospitals, are there to provide the necessary assistance which could be lifesaving. 

Patients requiring urgent care at hospital emergency departments are triaged and assisted as soon as possible, alternatively they may be referred to other facilities as we continue to work closely with all parties in the best interests of patients.

“As part of our disaster management planning, we have commissioned temporary Clinical Decision Units (CDUs) at certain hospitals in Gauteng to accommodate additional emergency patients. These CDUs proved very helpful in the second wave to ease the burden on the emergency departments and to enable the stabilisation of patients prior to hospitalisation,” Du Plessis adds.  

Netcare has spared no effort or expense in adding extra resources, including oxygen supply, drugs and consumables, as well as sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), to assist with managing an anticipated increase of COVID-19 admissions, and last week non-urgent surgeries requiring post-operative critical care were suspended to free up capacity where needed. 

“We have also taken the difficult decision to suspend visiting hours, other than in exceptional circumstances and end-of-life situations and then only with the express permission of hospital management on a case-by-case basis,” Du Plessis adds.

Netcare hospitals have bulk liquid oxygen supply tanks, as well as oxygen cylinders as a back-up. We have invested in increasing bulk supply tanks as one of several strategies to ensure sufficient continuous oxygen supply for patients. As a further safeguard, 1 400 oxygen concentrators were procured to draw oxygen from the air to bolster supply, if needed.

To keep families informed on the progress of their loved ones in hospital, next-of-kin nominated by patients admitted to hospital are encouraged to contact the Netcare Family Connect line on 0800 111 266 to facilitate personal feedback from a dedicated hospital representative on a regular basis. 

“We wish to assure the public that we will continue to do the very best we can for all patients seeking care at any of our healthcare facilities, while ensuring the safety of our patients, frontline staff, doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers,” Du Plessis says.


Issued by:    MNA on behalf of Netcare 
Contact:     Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clementine Forsthofer
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]