New Somerset Hospital had only four patients in their trauma unit on New Years’s Eve.
The Western Cape Health Department said although Covid-19 cases continue to rise, the drop in trauma cases, related specifically to violence and car crashes, ensured that the health facilities could better manage the load of Covid-19 patients.
They said many of their facilities’ emergency centres reported single-digit trauma cases on the day.
Touching on how the health system and health workers are coping, head of WC Health Department, Dr Keith Cloete, stated that all acute hospitals and district hospitals are currently under severe pressure and healthcare workers are tired and trying their best to cope with the demand and difficult circumstances of the second wave.
“We would like to thank all clinicians, nurses, all hospital staff, emergency staff, forensic pathology staff, as well as admin support staff (many of whom who worked through all the public holidays) for their Herculean effort during the last week. Each contribution helps us to render the critical life-saving service to our patients,” he said.
On the recruitment of healthcare workers, they said they have always understood that the availability of staff is a limiting factor in the response to Covid-19.
The department said they need to support their own staff who are infected with Covid-19. In addition to agency staff, they have issued a renewed call for direct recruitment and they have had expression of interest from a total of 527 people as of December 29. They added that there is a system in place to coordinate appointments per region to ensure that staff are placed where required.
Members of the public are urged to continue to be responsible and ensure that they are cautious about observing social distancing, good ventilation and hygiene and must play a role in protecting the health system as far as possible.