SA’s first ‘police hospital’ opens for Covid-19 patients in Pretoria

Deputy police minister Cassel Mathale and Polmed principal officer Neo Khauoe cut the ribbon to officially open the SAPS quarantine site in Tshwane on Thursday. Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

The doors have officially opened at SA’s first “police hospital”.

The 160-bed facility will first be used for women and men in blue who have contracted Covid-19. The disease has already claimed the lives of 193 officers.

Deputy police minister Cassel Mathale, together with SAPS national commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole and the management of the SA Police Medical Scheme (Polmed), opened the site at the Tshwane SAPS Academy on Thursday.

While the new hospital fits into the force’s long-term plans for its members, its first duty will be to assist officers who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

“We have been compelled to respond decisively and innovatively to curb the rapid spread of this pandemic and to ensure that we protect our front-line workers for them to be able to continue to deliver much-needed services to our citizens,” said Mathale. “What we are witnessing today is a step in the right direction.”

He said the pandemic had taught the government to prioritise the health of people.

Principal officer of Polmed, Neo Khauoe, said the site had the capacity to accommodate 160 patients. However, due to Covid-19 regulations it would accommodate up to 45 patients at this stage.

“We now have 34 members in different quarantine sites, and this site will accommodate newly diagnosed patients,” she said. “We knew that they [officers] would be on the front line during this pandemic. It was important for us to ensure that our officers are safe during this pandemic. We are dedicating this facility to our members.”

Sitole said the facility will be turned into a hospital for police members when no longer needed for dealing with Covid-19.

“The hospital is part of a long-term plan and part of the SAPS turnaround vision. We plan to have a police hospital in 2021. The steering committee is further looking at other facilities that will serve our members. We will also look into another additional facility,” he said.

“While we are all grappling with Covid, police are still faced with the responsibility of dealing with criminals, which also exposes our officers to the virus.”

Dr Nkateko Munisi, chair of the advisory board of the RH group and non-executive director of hospitals, said the facility was well-equipped, like any other private hospital.

“For now the facility has been prepared to accommodate 45 members for isolation purposes. We have different wards for female and male but it is fully fledged, well equipped, with the standard of any private facility — but strictly for police officers,” he said.

TimesLIVE

By Shonisani Tshikalange – TimesLIVE

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