News

Update on Somerset Hospital's Measles Ward

7 March 2010

Somerset Hospital opened an extra 32 beds, dedicated to the care of children with measles. The new unit opened on Wednesday 24 February 2010 and aims to relieve the pressure of large numbers of children with measles being admitted.

Over January and February there has been a steady rise in measles cases in Cape Town, with the disease starting to cause a far higher admission rate than usual. Somerset Hospital converted 14 of its lower care paediatric beds and commissioned an entire new ward of 18 beds, bringing the total available measles beds to 32.

In the first week of operation, the ward admitted 105 children. Of these, only 17% came from the hospitals casualty department and 5% from other wards within the hospital. A full 78% were transfers from other institutions.

The ward does not admit patients with uncomplicated measles, as they should be cared for at home. Most children who have been admitted have had complications of chest infections, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing from croup, or have had other problems such as malnutrition or HIV. Children with measles are nursed together to prevent the disease spreading to other uninfected patients.

Dr Kurt Maart, Chief Executive of Somerset Hospital said: These changes are all about providing improved care. Within 2 days of being asked to open the ward, we were up and running. The ward has been fully equipped, and funds have been made available for 2 extra medical officer posts to ease the workload. The ward will remain open as long as it is needed.

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