Durban - Student nurses and nurses staying at Addington Hospital Nurses’ Home had every reason to protest earlier this week, staff said.
The employees, who asked to remain anonymous, said complaints about the appalling condition of the facility had been brought to the Department of Health’s attention but no action had been taken.
“The department has been dragging its feet in fixing the nurses’ residence, hence their decision to protest on Tuesday. In this same hospital in 2015/16, one of the units was condemned by the Labour Department.
“Patients were removed and that unit is still like that. There are renovations at the hospital but it’s moving at a slow pace,” said an employee who did not want to be named.
“The department says it doesn’t have money, yet it spent more than a billion rand to build a new facility (Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Hospital). It doesn’t make sense.
“They should be spending more in maintaining the existing facilities,” the employee said.
In August last year, the condition of the building was reported to the department and the response was that there were repair plans in place.
Students, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, said it had been a couple of years since they had cold and hot water at the facility, and that lifts in the 15-storey building were broken.
They complained that the building stank and rubble was strewn all over.
Mandla Shabangu, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary, said their members and the students were frustrated by the department’s lack of urgency in fixing the building.
“Last week, they all (nurses) asked us to write to the provincial leadership since the institutional management was failing to attend to all the concerns. We don’t agree that some of the issues could take so long to resolve, even if the department is broke,” he said.
Shabangu said their members who lived in this building became frustrated when there was no commitment by the department to attend to the various issues.
He said they had recommended that the department find a better facility to accommodate their members and bus them to and from that facility to the hospital.
Ncumisa Mafunda, a department spokesperson, said Addington Hospital was an old facility and that some of infrastructure was under pressure for many reasons, including the effects of being near the sea.
“The maintenance of the infrastructure is also affected by budgetary constraints where clinical areas are prioritised over other services.
“However, the department has reviewed its priorities and is implementing a consolidated plan to address the situation,” said Mafunda.
On the intermittent water supply (cold and hot), she said the infrastructure unit was immediately restoring the supply while dealing with a permanent solution that required time.
She said rubble was being cleared and a contractor was fixing the lifts.
“The department fully understands the urgency of addressing this situation and is doing its best, despite challenges, to restore the Addington Nurses’ Home to an acceptable standard, and wishes to appeal for patience and understanding in this regard,” she said.
Dr Imraan Keeka, DA spokesperson for Health, said health-care infrastructure was collapsing in all parts of the province because there had been very little or no maintenance over the years.
“This problem has been compounded by a misguided moratorium on the filling of vacancies imposed by the provincial government. It has prevented the employment of artisans, engineers and handymen to repair and maintain simple things.
“It is inhumane for the nurses’ home to be without water for almost two months and to have to share your quarters with birds, cockroaches and rats because of the lack of upkeep by a failed department,” Keeka said.