Elective surgery was initially resumed on a limited basis at Netcare hospitals in May, referencing the guidelines of the American College of Surgeons, the Federation of Surgeons of South Africa and the South African Society of Anaesthesiologists. At that stage, elective surgery was resumed on the basis that the decision by treating specialists to proceed with such surgery would be informed by an internationally recognised decision making framework called the ‘medically necessary, time sensitive procedures’ (MeNTS).
“With the number of patients who have been confirmed as COVID-19 positive or who are under investigation for COVID-19 and who require hospital care continuing to reduce, non-urgent elective surgeries have fully resumed at Netcare hospitals and day hospitals,” says Jacques Du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.
Resuming elective surgery responsibly
“Based on Netcare’s COVID-19 policy and protocols implemented at all Netcare hospitals and day hospitals during the pandemic, our Group is managing elective surgery in a responsible manner, always with our patients’ and healthcare workers’ best interests and safety at heart,” Du Plessis notes.
“Notwithstanding the reduction in cases, Netcare hospitals remain fully vigilant in taking precautions to ensure the safest possible environment for our patients and healthcare workers. At the same time, we are agile and adaptive in our approach also in relation to the progressive relaxation of visiting of friends and family and other appropriate protocols,” he explains.
Du Plessis says the decision whether to proceed with a specific surgical procedure is solely that of the treating surgeon and the patient.
“Should there be a capacity constraint in a specific hospital at a certain time, this is also taken into consideration in determining which surgeries should be given priority. Management at Netcare hospitals continue to work closely with the COVID-19 clinical committee, and specifically the surgical sub-committee, at their hospital, to ensure the appropriate application of the scheduling principles in such cases.
“To minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading into or within Netcare hospitals, patients are still required to test for COVID-19 at least 72 hours before their planned admission, to self-quarantine from the time of testing to admission, and to present their results on the day of their planned admission when they will also complete the digital screening for COVID-19. Separate zones for patients who are COVID-19 negative, under investigation or positive are strictly maintained to ensure the safety of our patients as well as our healthcare workers,” says Du Plessis.
Unmanaged health conditions posing a serious risk to individuals
“Many patients have not managed their chronic health conditions appropriately during lockdown, and even after the lockdown restrictions were relaxed, often due to their concerns about the safety of seeking care from doctors and healthcare facilities. This is unfortunately still the case to some extent, and persons are even putting off seeking help from emergency departments for serious acute health conditions. This can have avoidable, long-term health consequences for them,” he explains.
Netcare hospitals safer than most public places
“As lockdown restrictions relaxed to stages 3 and 2, people are increasingly socialising, going to public facilities to shop, exercise or dine out, and many have returned to their places of work. However, in many cases, they are still hesitant to access hospital care even when they need it.
“Realistically – and people may not realise it –hospitals with appropriate COVID-19 precautionary measures in place, as we have within Netcare hospitals, are therefore among the safest public places to be. Ongoing vigilance and screening of all persons who enter the facilities remain crucial to our approach. “Our comprehensive precautionary measures include, amongst many other measures, the daily screening of all persons who work at our facilities for an extensive number of risk factors and not just temperature monitoring, so that any person who may pose a risk can be identified, the wearing of appropriate protection of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, patients and visitors, and our ongoing and thorough disinfecting of all areas,” Du Plessis concludes.
LATEST NETCARE COVID-19 VISITATION PROTOCOLS
The updated protocols for visiting and other matters of interest to our patients and their families are outlined below:
General visitation of patients
Restrictions applicable to the general visitation of patients, implemented at the start of lockdown, remain in place, with certain exceptions.
Requests for visitation beyond the exceptions outlined here below can be made to hospital management and will be accommodated as far as possible.
Antenatal visits and births
Birthing partners are now allowed to accompany expectant mothers to antenatal visits at Netcare hospitals, at the discretion of their obstetrician. Birthing partners may, as was the case up to now, attend the delivery of the baby. Thereafter, the birthing partner may visit the new mother once daily.
Note that these policy relaxations are on condition that partners complete the digital screening for COVID-19, which includes a comprehensive risk assessment questionnaire whereby identified risks such as COVID-19 exposure or symptoms may disallow entry. Partners will also be required to adhere to strict infection prevention measures that have been put in place in our hospital solely to ensure the safety of our patients and healthcare workers.
Nursery and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
Only one parent at a time is allowed to visit newborns in the nursery or NICU. This is on condition that the person(s) visiting has had no COVID-19 exposure and, if the parent visiting is not an in-patient, will need to complete the digital screening for COVID-19 which includes a comprehensive risk assessment questionnaire whereby identified risks such as COVID-19 exposure or symptoms may disallow entry. A parent visiting will also be required to adhere to very strict infection prevention controls that are in place to minimise the risks to their baby, other patients and healthcare workers. We unfortunately still cannot allow grandparents or siblings to visit.
Only one parent at a time is permitted to live in with an admitted child. The parent is required to have had no COVID-19 exposure and will need to complete the digital screening for COVID-19 which includes a comprehensive risk assessment questionnaire whereby identified risks such as COVID-19 exposure or symptoms may disallow entry. A parent living in with their child will be required to adhere to very strict infection prevention controls that are in place to minimise the risks to their child, other patients and healthcare workers.
End of life situations
Visitation for end of life situations will continue to be arranged by the hospital general manager to ensure a compassionate approach regardless of a patient’s COVID-19 status. Such visitation is subject to certain conditions, which will be discussed with the patient’s family, however Netcare hospitals will accommodate requests as far as possible. Visitors will have to adhere to very strict infection prevention controls to minimise the risk to other patients and healthcare workers.
Re-opening of Netcare in-hospital retail pharmacies and coffee shops
A number of Netcare in hospital retail pharmacies and Clicks front shop pharmacies located within Netcare hospitals have already re-opened, with the remainder resuming service by 31 August.
Persons entering the hospital to visit the Netcare in-hospital pharmacy or Clicks front shop will need to complete the digital screening for COVID-19 which includes a comprehensive risk assessment questionnaire, whereby identified risks such as COVID-19 exposure or symptoms may disallow entry.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, and Meggan Saville
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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