Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, visited Harry Comay TB Hospital in George this morning to view the 100 new beds purchased for the hospital at a cost of more than R1 million.
The new beds are equipped with different height and angle settings which makes it easier for patients to get on and off their beds. “The new hospital beds are easy to move. This makes our work easier”, says Linda Geweld, Nursing Manager at Harry Comay Hospital. Patients can also enjoy their meals in bed with newly purchased bed trays.
Minister Botha said Harry Comay hospital delivers a specialised service to TB patients. “In the Western Cape HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis still constitute the largest burden of premature mortality and rank among the three major causes of shorter life spans. The sooner you get treated, the better your chances of complete recovery. Western Cape Health provides the services, but the obligation is with the public to get tested as soon as they start to show the typical symptoms – persistent coughing and night sweats.”
Harry Comay TB Hospital caters for Tuberculosis patients in the Eden region including multi-drug resistant, extreme-drug resistant and HIV positive patients. The average length of stay for these patients is 10 weeks. Multi-drug- and extreme drug-resistant patients can stay up to 8 months. Normally about 70 patients at a time are in treatment at the hospital. There are 56 staff members working around the clock to ensure the best possible care for these patients.
The hospital is currently under re-construction and a new ARV clinic and ward upgrade is set for completion at the end of this year.
Patients are encouraged to get involved with projects at the hospital. By participating in projects such as woodwork, painting, needlework and embroidery they become self-sufficient and skilled in activities which can be used for income generation after discharge. Staff and patients recently started a new project making track suits, but soon realised that their normal swing machine will have to be replaced by an industrial machine. They hope that the public will be able to assist them with this.
The national incidence of TB is 823/100 000 population and the Western Cape is slightly higher at 935/100 000. The Eastern Cape is the only province with a per 100 000 incidence higher than the Western Cape at 960/100 000.
Although TB numbers in the Western Cape have been decreasing over the past 4 years, this is unfortunately not necessarily an indication that the epidemic is under control or even stabilizing. The high percentage of patients testing highly positive on diagnosis is an indication of undiagnosed, untreated cases in the community.
What is TB? TB is a disease that is caused by a germ that attacks and damages the lungs, and it can be easily passed to others through coughing and sneezing.
How do people get infected? When an infected person coughs, sneezes or spits saliva onto the ground the germs are spread into the surrounding air and remain for a long time. If you inhale the air you can breathe in the germs and get infected.
What are the early symptoms?
* Persistent cough for more than two weeks.
* Unexplained weight loss
* Drenching night sweats
* General feeling of illness or fever for more than two weeks.
Where and how do I get tested? You can get free testing at your nearest clinic. Testing is done by taking two sputum samples and the results are normally available after two to three days.
What will happen if I have TB? TB treatment is free from the clinic. You will be started on TB medication, and the treatment is taken for six to eight months. A nurse at the clinic will tell you about the disease, how it is treated, the importance of adherence support that can be provided while on treatment, the diet to follow, the importance of screening your immediate family members as well as things to avoid when you are on treatment.
For more information contact Harry Comay TB Hospital on 044 803 9000.