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Life Healthcare hospitals remain open and operational for admission of patients and treatment of medical emergencies

Contrary to fake news and rumours on social media, no Life Healthcare Hospitals are closed and all are generally ready and able to admit COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related patients.

Dr Charl van Loggerenberg, General Manager: Emergency Medicine for the Life Healthcare Group says, “The bed capacity situation across all of our hospitals is fluid and is being reassessed frequently. Our hospital management teams remain in constant contact with one another, their doctors and other healthcare professionals to ensure that additional beds are made available should this be required.”

Given the increase in infection rate, it is anticipated that the hospitals will experience pressure with COVID-19 admissions. All Life Healthcare hospitals have a Doctor COVID Committee that works closely with hospital management in the daily and ongoing clinical decisions affecting patients, staff and doctors to ensure that the situation is managed optimally. There are daily operational briefings and live data to keep all the management teams appraised of facility status. Life Healthcare hospitals across the country are collaborating to ensure best practice and shared learnings.

Dr Van Loggerenberg stresses: “It would not be correct to say that hospitals are full and cannot accept admissions. We want to assure the public that any individual with an emergency must go directly to their closest emergency room where they will be treated.”

“It is important for us to explain that determining capacity at hospitals is based on several factors, not only patient numbers. It is standard practice in all hospitals, outside of the COVID-19 crisis, to place certain areas of care under Temporary Capacity Divert (TCD).”

TCD is the process of advising Emergency Medical Services (EMS) or ambulatory service of the best possible options for their patient. This is specific to when the level of acuity (severity of an illness) of a patient cannot be met at that immediate time. e.g. A specific specialist is not immediately available to attend to the medical emergency.

“TCD relates to patient needs, and not only patient or bed numbers. This does not mean that there are no beds available at the hospital, but rather that the immediate care needed is not immediately available. The same applies with the current COVID-19 situation,” added Dr Van Loggerenberg.

Dr Van Logerenberg explains, for example, should an EMS vehicle need to bring a patient with a brain injury to a hospital and the neurosurgeon on call is not available for immediate care, then all ‘neurosurgery’ medical emergency cases would be put on Temporary Capacity Divert and taken to the next nearest facility until such time that the surgeon has capacity. This does not necessarily mean that there are no beds available at the hospital, but rather that the high priority and best care needed is not immediately available.

It is also important to note that Temporary Capacity Diverts are constantly in flux and can change at any point within a 24-hour period. 

“We appeal to members of the public to act responsibly when using social media and social messaging platforms about hospital capacity. The best place to get up to date information is to follow your local Life Healthcare hospital Facebook page, where official and important messages are posted in the interest of the hospital community and patients,” concluded Dr Van Loggerenberg.