South Africa’s largest makeshift hospital to house hundreds of COVID-19 patients in Cape Town is on track for completion and will start treating patients in a phased-in approach, Western Cape Governor Allan Winde said on Tuesday.
“It is our hope that this facility really is a beacon of recovery, and those entering its doors for treatment receive the care they need so that they can get well and return home,” Winde said during a visit to the site.
The hospital, being fitted out of the Cape Town International Conference Center (CTICC), is designed to provide 850 intermediate care hospital beds.
Winde visited one of the wards, where construction has been completed and beds have been installed.
This is part of the Western Cape Government’s plans to prepare the healthcare system for the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Construction began in late April as the province saw a rapid rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases. The Western Cape has remained the country’s epicenter of the virus, recording 14,978 confirmed cases and 318 deaths as of Monday.
As planned, the site will be ready by the first week of June, well before the expected peak when these beds will be required.
The Western Cape’s scenario planning has predicted a shortfall of 1,000 acute beds in the province at the peak of the pandemic.
“We are continuously assessing the data available to us about the progression of the virus in the province, in order to respond appropriately,” Winde said.
The CTICC facility, once open, will provide intermediate care, such as the administration of oxygen and physiotherapy and has facilities for patients whose health may deteriorate while in the facility.
The hospital will be staffed by 987 people including medical specialists, general practioners, nurses, physiotherapists and administrative and support staff.
With a state-of-the-art digital X-ray machine, the hospital will be entirely paperless to ensure that risk of infection is minimized. It will also have a specialized waste removal system to ensure that potentially contaminated waste is cared for.
“One of the things that struck me in the hospital, is the sign above each bed which says ‘beacon of hope and recovery’,” Winde said.
Unfortunately, patients will not be able to see their families or receive visitors while in this hospital, but will have WiFi to video call their loved ones, according to Winde.
The facility has also carefully considered staff safety, with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) required for treating patients. The showers and change rooms are also housed on a separate floor so that the staff can shower and change before leaving the facility and going home.
The CTICC has been an important part of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape, contributing to the travel and events economy and creating thousands of jobs.
This hospital, together with 18 temporary testing and triage sites across the province, and a number of already operational quarantine and isolation sites, is part of the province’s focused response to the pandemic.