Union calls for Addington Hospital management to be fired
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Durban - FIRE Addington Hospital management if the state of the facility is to be brought to normalcy, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said.
This after the union was alerted to allegations that victims of the lift crisis at the facility were not taken in for counselling and that no incident reports were made to record the numerous incidents where lifts got stuck with people inside.
In October a hospital lift got stuck between the second and the third floors before the cables snapped and the lift plunged to the ground floor.
No injuries were suffered by the passengers inside, but a staff member, who happened to be a department employee, escaped injury and possible death when she was dragged out of the lift by men who were also passengers while the lift was still stuck in between the floors.
Nehawu regional secretary Prince Mthalane said it was an embarrassment that government employees should be exposed to such a working environment.
“Everything is falling apart at that facility. The current leadership at the hospital should be removed. How did they allow the hospital to be in the state that it is in? There is a lot more rot in that hospital, it is not only the lifts. There is also a pharmacy which has since been condemned.
“It is a disgrace that we continue reading and hearing about the appalling condition of a government institution with little showing about the efforts to normalise the situation,” said Mthalane.
The Daily News reported on October 28 that the hospital’s lifts were a death trap for employees, patients and visitors alike.The front four main passenger lifts are broken and the Health Department had said two of the four lifts would be operational by November 2.
A senior nurse, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said victims of the lifts were not given counselling, and that the nurse who was dragged out of the lift before it plunged to the ground floor was not at her best – when she did go to work.
“The main problem is that we are threatened not to speak about these things. My colleague was never taken for counselling and no incident report was done after the lift crashed to the ground floor.
“When you (Daily News) spoke to us in October, you reported that the department said two of the four lifts will be operational by November 2. That has not happened. You get this lift working and the next day it’s broken. It is not clear how the employer (department) is fixing this hazard,” said the nurse.
She questioned how one was expected to “be our normal selves” after being trapped in a lift and not given counselling.
“Without the incident report, how will the department deal with, if there are any, after-effects to the victims, if there are no statements taken, no assessments done to ensure that people are still safe after being trapped inside a lift? It is worse when a lift you were riding crashes and you survive. That incident remains in your mind,” she said.
Mthalane said with the second wave of Covid-19 everyone going to Addington was at risk of contracting the virus.
“The matter of the lifts in that facility is now with the bargaining chamber. The truth of the matter is that the (health) department doesn’t have the capacity to deal with this problem. With the second wave of the Covid-19, people using the same operating lift will be compromised. The linen from Covid areas, Covid patients and the community will be compromised because they are using the same lift,” he said.
Department head Dr Sandile Tshabalala said he would follow up on the allegation that employees stuck in the lifts had not been receiving counselling.
“We have started making sure that there is an Occupational Health and Safety Working Committee that will look at all issues affecting staff members. We admit we have challenges with the lifts. We have realised that we have not been receiving good quality service from the previous contractor, hence we have since substituted it. It must be noted that we are dealing with the lifts issue. I must note that there has been an element of sabotage when it comes to the lifts,” said Tshabalala.
He said the hospital’s systems manager found a table jamming the lift one morning.
“He decided to take the stairs one morning because one lift was not working. When he got to one of the upper floors, he found a table jamming the lift, and it’s clear it was put there deliberately. Next to the lift there is a trellidor, an access way to the lift. It was locked with a padlock which no one had a key for. In my books that is an act of sabotage.
“We want to assure the public that we are dealing with these issues,” he said.