Tygerberg Hospital hails early planning for being able to cope with COVID-19

The tertiary hospital admitted its first coronavirus patient on 25 March. Almost a year later, more than 11,000 COVID-19 patients have been treated there.

Tygerberg Hospital in Parow in the Western Cape. Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Tygerberg Hospital was one of the first medical facilities to plan ahead for the coronavirus last year.

The tertiary hospital admitted its first coronavirus patient on 25 March.

Almost a year later, more than 11,000 COVID-19 patients have been treated there.

The Western Cape currently has more than 13,500 active coronavirus cases, while 10,238 died since the pandemic was declared.

From early on, when COVID-19 was battering countries in Europe and parts of China, experts at Tygerberg Hospital were preparing to safely admit and care for patients at the facility.

One of them was infectious diseases specialist, Doctor Jantjie Taljaard.

"We were, together with the infection prevention and control department in the hospital, we were basically the first responders, we kind of raised the flag on the pending respiratory virus and then after that, we became basically advisors to management and we supported our department of medicine who led the massive response within the hospital."

A screening and triage testing centre was also set up at the hospital, as well as other healthcare facilities in the province.

Nursing manager, Sister Francilene Marthinus, said that having a detailed plan in place, which included simulations of when a potential COVID-19 patient arrived, helped them navigate uncertain days of dealing with the influx of cases.

"When the ambulance stop at the entrance, we prepared the entrance, we reserved a special lift and remember in all of this we had to ensure that we do keep the rest of the patients and the staff safe, so there was a special entrance, special lift reserved into our infectious diseases, so that was the easy part."

Nearly a year later, health workers are still fighting to save patients compromised by a disease that an ICU specialist described as "soul-destroying".

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.