Fear as Kimberley mental hospital ‘crawling with snakes’
Kimberley - Workers at the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital fear for their safety after a Cape cobra was found inside a printer in one of the offices on Tuesday.
It is reported to be the third incident in less than a month in which staff members have been confronted with a snake.
Another snake was reportedly killed last week after being found in a patient’s room.
In the other incidents, a puff adder was apparently found at the gate and a “baby” snake was found in a staff member’s car upon arrival at home from work.
The appearance of the snakes has reportedly left staff members and patients in distress.
The workers fear for their safety and pointed out that they do not have any training on how to handle a situation of being confronted by a snake.
One of the workers also pointed out on Tuesday that the situation is greatly concerning for patients and workers with a phobia of snakes.
“We are in the season where the snakes come out of hibernation and we cannot prevent the situation of snakes being all over the place as the hospital is situated in the middle of nowhere,” said a staff member.
“Patients and staff members are vulnerable when confronted by a snake as they are mostly left cold, become paralytic and get anxiety attacks,” added the worker.
The staff member indicated that there are snakes in the parking lot, where there is shelter, and that workers fear that they will make their way into their cars.
He said that the situation is becoming “dire”, adding that some employees, especially those working night shifts, are afraid of entering the parking lot.
“Even the security personnel are afraid of accompanying the staff around the facility because they do not know how to handle the different snakes.
“They are not allowed to kill them.
“We have the contact number of the snake catcher to call whenever we see a snake.”
Another worker suggested that the Department of Health provide basic training for the staff and security personnel, as a proactive measure, on how to deal with the situation should they encounter a snake.
“They should not wait for a disaster to happen first - for a snake to bite a patient or a worker.
“Imagine if that Cape cobra had bitten the worker.
“The snake catcher told us that if bitten, the patient would not even have made it to hospital. That is how deadly some of the snakes are that we come across.”
The Northern Cape Department of Health had not responded to media enquiries by the time of going to publication.