Bankmed, in partnership with our Administrator, has introduced a range of initiatives to support our members during COVID-19. These initiatives included detailed analytics and reporting to identify and understand the risks and needs of our members, new benefits to provide full financial indemnity against COVID-19, initiatives to protect high risk members against the severe effects of COVID-19, home care and monitoring for early detection of signs of deterioration, digital services for remote consultation and doctor support.
As the pandemic has progressed, much like the rest of the world, the healthcare system has experienced high volumes of COVID-19 related admissions, placing significant strain on ICU bed capacity. In regions where the capacity of hospital beds – particularly ICU beds – comes under strain, Bankmed will do everything in our power to ensure that every single member who requires ICU care, receives this at the highest standards. If necessary, this includes contingency planning to transport members to an available ICU bed, where appropriate. We are fortunate that as we have seen volumes peak recently in various provinces, including the Western cape, Eastern cape and Gauteng, there have been sufficient beds in the private hospitals to accommodate all patients needing urgent care.
Our Administrator, is working very closely with the private hospital groups; with whom we have longstanding relationships. This includes regular check-ins on the capacity of the private hospitals, and particularly the availability of ICU beds for urgent cases. In the event that ICU bed capacity is seen to be threatened or diminishing to dangerously low levels, we will work with the hospitals, the treating doctors, and the members’ families to move members being treated for non-COVID related conditions, to ICUs where sufficient surplus capacity exists. This would serve to free up additional capacity, in the pressurised and overloaded ICUs.
We are optimistic that as a result of the healthcare infrastructure contingencies, and extra resources added during the lockdown, that there will be sufficient healthcare resources to meet the country’s and our members’ needs. We do, however, encourage preventative and social distancing measures, including reminders of available benefits and services that our members have access to, in the context of the rising infection rate.
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, emerging experience from other parts of the world, as well as data highlights the importance for members to understand and manage their health risks during COVID-19.