MEDIA STATEMENT BY KZN HEALTH MEC HON. Ms NOMAGUGU SIMELANE-ZULU:
*GEN. JUSTICE GIZENGA MEMORIAL HOSPITAL TO STOP TAKING PATIENTS FOLLOWING LAB CONFIRMED COVID – 19 INFECTIONS - PRIORITY NOW IS ON ISOLATION AND TREATMENT; PROTECTION OF OTHER PATIENTS AND STAFF, AND TO ALLOW FOR THE DECONTAMINATION OF THE HOSPITAL*
04 MAY 2020
We have taken a tough but important decision that the Gen. Justice Gizenga Memorial Hospital (formerly Stanger Hospital) at KwaDukuza will stop accepting any new patients, with immediate effect.
This follows laboratory confirmation of 16 positive COVID – 19 cases at the hospital involving nine mothers, two babies, four doctors and one nurse.
As a Department, we are extremely concerned by these developments, and have urgently exercised our Constitutional obligation to prevent a further outbreak of the virus.
What is of particular concern to us is the fact that these infections have taken place in spite of the hospital’s Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures, as well as the requisite Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that has been made available to staff.
The first known COVID – 19 case involves a medical consultant from the hospital’s paediatric department, who fell ill on 26 April 2020, and received her positive test results on 29 April 2020.
We have instituted an urgent investigation by our Communicable Diseases Control and IPC experts which will seek to establish, among others, where the virus came from, and how it was able to spread at such a rapid rate within the hospital.
All of the hospital’s laboratory-confirmed COVID – 19 – positive staff and patients have been isolated, and all protocols for contact mapping, tracing, testing, quarantine and isolation have been followed, in compliance with guidelines from the World Health Organisation.
The hospital, with 219 patients, has effectively been turned into a quarantine site. All staff and patients in the surgical ward and ICU have been tested. The remaining staff and patients will be tested this evening and tomorrow.
This interim plan will be reassessed in the next 24 hours.
As a precaution, we believe it is prudent that the facility stops taking in any new patients henceforth, while the Department continues to ascertain the true extent of the challenge; as well as to allow for the decontamination of the facility.
Obstetrics and gynaecological cases requiring care at regional level will be diverted to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial; King Edward VIII; and RK Khan hospitals.
Chronic patients will be assessed at the gate; get issued with three months’ medical supplies; and be down-referred to Central Chronic Medicine Dispensing and Distribution (CCMDD) sites.
Alongside the ongoing investigation, a high-level outbreak response team from the Province is currently engaging with hospital management, organised labour, and other relevant stakeholders on best practice to ensure the safety of staff and patients, as well as the rendering of adequate support, and further intervention where necessary.
We urge all hospital staff and the community of KwaDukuza at large to remain calm at this time, while the Department continues to work flat-out to minimise the public inconveience brought about by the current challenges.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation.
We wish all those who have taken ill a speedy and full recovery, and remain confident that the situation will soon return to normal.