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Life Healthcare says responsible safety choices and accelerating the vaccination programme is key

“We must get the right social disciplines in place and accelerate the vaccination rollout by dropping the age limit to reduce the pressure on the hospitals,” appeals Peter Wharton-Hood, CEO of Life Healthcare.

“Prevention is far better than cure. Our learnings show that the third wave is a direct result of social behaviour. People are not following the obvious advice and guidelines that have been given to them for months. Responsible behaviour, masking and social distancing could have prevented this surge from happening. The infections are already in the system and a harder lockdown which has dire social and economic consequences is not going to prevent the peak in infections predicted within the next two weeks.”

Life Healthcare had just over 1,400 COVID-19 in-patients’ country wide on Monday, 21 June 2021. This number increased sharply from less than 200 cases two months ago.  Wharton-Hood states that, “Sixty percent of the admissions are in Gauteng with 800 new cases – this is considerably more than the 600 and 700 cases at the peak of wave one and two respectively.”

Wharton-Hood said that the hospitals are coping and are making every effort possible to find the best solutions in each of their hospitals. Hospital management teams working closely with local Doctor COVID-19 committees are taking the key learnings from the previous two waves of infection to further strengthen the hospital group’s internal protocols. The hospital management teams across the country remain in constant contact with one another, their COVID Doctor Committees, other healthcare professionals and other private healthcare facilities to ensure that additional beds, sufficient personnel and deployment of equipment are made available in the event that this is required as the surge moves from one area to another.

“We must accelerate the vaccination rollout. As more vaccine doses are being delivered into the country, we must drop the age limit to get more people vaccinated especially those with co-morbidities. We are also experiencing a high volume of no-shows for scheduled appointments and would like to urge those with confirmed SMSs for vaccination appointments to attend their scheduled appointments. The hospitals have stringent safety measures in place to ensure the safety of those on the premises. Real world evidence gathered across the globe has demonstrated the efficacy of the vaccines which not only reduce the transmission of COVID-19, but significantly reduces the risk of developing severe disease and therefore hospital admissions,” says Wharton-Hood, a strong advocate for vaccination.

“With most of our healthcare workers receiving their vaccinations as part of the Sisonke rollout, we are increasingly confident that this has already had a positive impact, as the percentage of staff infected with COVID -19 since the start of wave three is approximately 4% (versus 17% in waves one and two combined), with many staff displaying less severe symptoms,” he said. COVID-19 staff infection rates will continue to be observed as the current COVID-19 wave has not reached its peak.

“Communicating a general message that all walk-ins will always be accepted is challenging as each hospital is unique. Every hospital has a daily vaccine allocation for those with appointments; and it is those people who take priority, however it is in everyone’s best interest to accelerate the process and wherever humanly possible, walk-in’s for those over 60 with medical aid will be accommodated.”