Elective surgery has been fully and responsibly resumed at Netcare hospitals and day hospitals. The hospital group has also changed its visitation protocols with birthing partners now being allowed to attend the delivery of the baby and visit the new mother while visits for end of life situations will also be allowed under strict conditions.

“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.

 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).

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.

Du Plessis says ongoing vigilance and screening of all persons who enter the facilities remain crucial to Netcare’s 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 concluded.