Crisis at Groblersdal Hospital: Health MEC must urgently intervene

Langa Bodlani (MPL)

Spokesperson on Health

Premature babies at neonatal section of Groblersdal Hospital are dying because this hospital does not have the crucially essential medical gas used in a CPAP machine, a machine that is used to help resuscitate the respiratory functions of babies who are born before their normal time of birth. The entire hospital does not have medical gas.

This was uncovered in yet another DA’s oversight visit yesterday to this hospital with local councillor Johan Kotze.

According to medical staff, the fact that hospital does not have medical gas for the CPAP machine has allegedly led to the death of 6 premature babies in July this year.  I was also told that on average 2 to 3 premature babies die every month as a result of this.  The matter was reported to the department as early as 2011 and yet to date nothing is being done about it.

Medical staff are now left without an option but to transfer the premature babies to other hospital most of which are a very long distance away from the Groblersdal Hospital. In certain instances choppers are used to ferry the children to Philadelphia, St Rita  or Mankweng Hospitals. These deaths and hardship could be avoided if medical gas could simply be installed this hospital.

Structurally this hospital has major challenges.  At the maternity ward with 13 beds, there is only 1 bath and 1 toilet.

The wards are not demarcated according to the severity of the sickness such as the separation between surgical, orthopaedic and isolation wards. Terminally ill patients and those with TB infections are mixed with other patients as there is not enough space at this hospital. TB being an airborne disease is easily contagious under these circumstances.

The female ward has not had a functional bath for almost 2 years are patients have to use the small dish bowls to bath.  The delivery wards are small and have no separation curtains for privacy when babies are born. Babies are born in full exposure to the other patients in the ward. In fact this is a problem in all wards, patients have no privacy.

There is no cleaning service to do dirty laundry at the hospital; this duty is now done by cleaners when they are off-duty.  The beds at both the male and female wards are not enough causing the some patients to sleep on the floor at times.

At the pharmacy, there have been no ARVs for almost a month now.  Over a 100 patients who rely on this hospital for ARV provision are given some syrup in exchange and this does not conform to the professional medical protocol for HIV patients. The air cons at the pharmacy are not working and most of the medication has to be stored under certain prescribed temperature.

The filing system is even worse. The computer software used to register files often freezes, making it difficult to retrieve patients’ files they are urgently needed.  There is a shortage of space to keep patients files and files are scattered on the floor. Some files are being damaged by a leaking roof.

The shortage of staff is severe.  Most of the critical positions such as the CEO, clinical manager and other are either on acting capacity or are not there at all. During the night there is no staff at the theatre and nurses have to rotate being on stand-by. There are no artisans and there is only 1 carpenter and 1 electrician for the entire hospital.

This is but one of the sad examples of the ANC’s neglect of our public health centres.

The DA urges health MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe to urgently intervene at this hospital because it services wide range of communities including those of Elias Motsoaledi, Ephraim Mogale and Makhuthamaga.  These communities cannot be let down by government’s ineptitude and lack of caring.