Gauteng, North West hospitals facing multi-faceted crisis
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Johannesburg – Patients at Gauteng and North West hospitals continue to suffer from problems such as a shortage of water, overcrowding, lack of medication and poor treatment by hospital staff.
There was a shortage of water supply at the Hursthill, Brixton and Crosby areas, leading to two hospitals, Rahima Moosa and Helen Joseph, to be supplied with water tankers.
Gauteng Health MEC spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the water issue was not due to the department, but the City of Joburg’s water entity, Johannesburg Water.
Johannesburg Water spokesperson Eleanor Mavimbela said they had explored all possible technical options with bulk supplier Rand Water in resolving challenges with the water supply in the area’s systems, which were being caused by below average inflow of water into the system.
“Water was restored in the areas on Monday and Tuesday. Contingency plans were made to supply the hospitals with water,” said Mavimbela.
DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom said the cause of the problem was a disrupted supply of water from the Hursthill Reservoir, which affected a large part of north-west Johannesburg.
“Patients at the hospital were given bottled water, but toilets became blocked and smelly, and a number of operations were cancelled. One patient even ordered a delivery of water from a supermarket in order to help other patients in his ward,” said Bloom.
He also expressed concern on the opening of the 1 000-bed Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH), which was damaged by fire on April 16 and led to patients being moved to other hospitals.
“Patients are suffering as they have transport problems to get to other health facilities for medicines or consultations. Cancer patients have been redirected to the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital for chemotherapy and to the Steve Biko Hospital for radiation treatment.
’’This is not satisfactory as backlogs and delays are experienced. And sometimes the diagnosis has to be redone from scratch,” said Bloom.
The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development spokesperson, Nongiwe Gumbi, said they were working with the City of Joburg’s fire department to address all compliance matters that the city requires from them in order to reopen.
“We are meeting and working daily. At this stage, we are unable to confirm reopening. Once we are ready with the information, however, we will communicate,” said Gumbi.
While the government recently confirmed that the country was currently in the third wave of Covid-19, on the other hand patients are being frustrated and turned away from Brits Hospital in the North West, where there has been a shortage of medical supplies for almost a month.
Speaking to Independent Media, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union revealed that there is a lack of important medication including ARVs, sedation drugs and those for high blood pressure, and more, across the province, not only at Brits Hospital.
“As a union we are aware that there are shortages of medication across the province. If you go to Mogase Health Care Centre in Rustenburg, you will see patients are being turned away; HIV-positive patients are defaulting. We have been raising this issue with the department for a long time,” said Nehawu provincial deputy secretary Ignitious Msoki.
Msoki said the union would have a meeting with the health department on Wednesday.
“As a healthcare worker at Brits Hospital, it is frustrating to turn away sick people who need medication because supplies are dry. Some of the patients use their last money, or they are from the rural areas and they end up getting frustrated on their first contact,” said an anonymous staff member.
North West health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane admitted that there were instances of shortages of medication.
“Sometimes we do have certain items that run out due to a number of reasons. Amongst others, it could be that the suppliers have not delivered, or the item is in short supply in the market.
’’In certain instances, facilities do not monitor their stock levels, resulting in shortages at a particular facility, whereas the stock is available in the province. It will help if the anonymous employees can indicate which specific items are in short supply so that there can be intervention,” said Lekgethwane.
He said the department would get a diagnostic report to establish challenges, if any.
“Patients who might not be getting medicine are requested to interact with their governance structures, who can bring the matter to the attention of the department for intervention,” Sekgethwane said.