Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL
DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health
Last week, during a KZN parliamentary oversight visit to GJ Crookes hospital, part of the ceiling in the Maternity ward collapsed.
Fortunately this happened above a stairwell and not over patients in the ward or in theatre.
Subsequent discussions with hospital management revealed that a wood borer infestation was discovered in the roof rafters and ceiling some 4 years ago and the roof subsequently fumigated.
Yet the hospital building is almost 80 years old and the damage done to the wooden roof support structures was already significant. As a result, staff continued to experience ongoing problems – with both damp and collapsing roof panels in patient wards and delivery rooms.
The KZN Health department was notified about this problem. Hospital management also marked it as an urgent priority on their multi-year infrastructure plan. Yet the department has consistently shelved this infrastructure repair, allegedly due to budgetary constraints.
This incident is symptomatic of the ‘don’t-care attitude’ that has led to massive infrastructure deterioration in so many provincial hospitals. It is time that the department realised that good maintenance reduces costs in the long term.
While the parliamentary delegation was still at the hospital, management sent through another urgent request to the KZN Health department.
The DA will today follow up with a letter to MEC Dhlomo requesting that he urgently prioritise this matter. The entire roof of this ward must be replaced before it one day collapses on patients.
It is unacceptable that any patient – in particular those who are at their most vulnerable – should have to concern themselves about ceilings falling in on them or their newborn babies.
Any loss of life or injury under these circumstances will lie squarely at the feet of both MEC and his department.