“PEOPLE were waiting for others to die, so they could get their bed,” were the words of Peter Sander, general manger of Swakopmund’s Cottage Mediclinic, on the recent surge in Covid-19 cases at the coast.
He was speaking at a handover of N$1 million worth of medical equipment by Rössing Uranium to Erongo health facilities at Swakopmund on Thursday.
He said on 29 June, during the peak of the current third-wave, the Cottage Mediclinic had an occupancy rate of 118% for 55 beds, of which 91% were Covid-19 patients.
People who did not have Covid had to give up their beds for those who needed emergency care, said Sander.
He, however, said no one was turned away from the hospital during this time and everyone received some care to help them alleviate their experience.
Sander said currently the occupancy rate of Covid patients had dropped to 51%, from an average of 80% over the past few months.
“Things have calmed down, but there is no way we can guarantee that we will not face a similar spike in the future. In fact, we are ready for a fourth wave expected at the end of the year,” he warned. “I’m hoping that this third wave is the best message to encourage people to get vaccinated. This is a wake-up call.”
He urged the government to do all it can to ensure the speedy delivery of vaccines to stem the current shortage. Besides vaccines, he said that availability of oxygen was the “best medicine” for Covid patients, and the hospital increased capacity by installing an bulk-oxygen tank that holds 6,5 tonnes.
Cottage Mediclinic received five more beds and portable oxygen cylinders, according to Sanders.
The clinic was, however, not the only beneficiary of the donation. Most of the public health facilities in Erongo received a variety of medical equipment, which included PPE-wear, suction machines, stretcher trollies, bed-wear, wheelchairs, sanitiser dispensers and liquid, blood pressure meters, electric hospital beds and oxygen cylinders, among others.
The Swakopmund State Hospital received the biggest part of the donation.
“Rössing recognises the burden of healthcare facilities and the increasing Covid-19 cases and deaths which have affected the entire nation. We have responded to the government call for the private sector to contribute towards alleviating the mounting pressure on the medical fraternity,” said Rössing managing director Johan Coetzee.
The mine also donated an oxygen generator worth N$4,5 million to the Walvis Bay State Hospital last year, said Erongo governor Neville Andre who launched the Erongo vaccination campaign on Wednesday.
To date, 11 962 people have received their first dose of Sinopharm and AstraZeneca, which is 10% of the targeted population of 121 000 in the region. An average of 400 people are vaccinated a day in the region.
“A substantial percentage of the young are not taking the vaccination, and we want to target them during this campaign,” said Andre.