Patients and visitors are complaining over the lack of water at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Patients and visitors are complaining over the lack of water at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Water crisis at Steve Biko Academic Hospital

By Goitsemang Tlhabye Time of article published May 6, 2021

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Pretoria - Patients at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital have criticised the management for failing to provide them with water for two days, amid a coronavirus pandemic and with no reasonable explanation.

A patient who requested to remain anonymous said they were unhappy with the treatment and lack of urgency displayed by the hospital, after they have had to “sit without water” from Sunday morning.

The patient said that as the toilets started to stink, they were forced to use water collected in buckets from a fire hydrant on the lower levels in order to flush them. However, they could not drink the water as it had chemicals used to extinguish fires.

He said things were so bad that a friend who was also due for surgery at the hospital had informed him that the procedure had to be postponed due to the lack of water.

According to the patient, the only information they could glean from the hospital management was that there was some construction taking place that had interrupted the water supply to the hospital.

“What is upsetting is that the hospital management doesn’t seem to be showing any urgency or letting us know, as the patients who need water more than ever to hydrate and drink our medicine, what alternative arrangements they have organised seeing as how the water is yet to return.

“We managed to get someone from the provincial Department of Health to have bottles of drinking water delivered to the hospital on Tuesday, but there was nothing provided for us this morning (Wednesday.)”

By yesterday afternoon he said the water had started slowly returning but was brown and too dirty to drink.

The provincial Health Department yesterday and referred the matter to management, which had yet to comment.

DA spokesperson for health, MPL Jack Bloom, said the situation at the hospital was unacceptable as hygiene had been severely affected and the risk of infection of patients would surely increase as a result.

Bloom confirmed that they had received reports that the hospital had been without water for two days, and that it appeared that this was due to an internal issue of poor maintenance of the pipes.

He said although water tankers had been sent to the hospital, the toilets remained blocked, and sick patients from higher floors had to go down to lower floors for their ablutions.

“The hospital was built quite recently, as it opened in 2006, so it is inexcusable that building faults keep recurring, including things such as broken lifts.

“The department needs to urgently improve maintenance and the safety of hospitals, otherwise patients and staff will continue to suffer from defects which can escalate disastrously, as we have seen with the recent fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.”

Pretoria News

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