Hospital management and staff at the frontline of the defence against the raging Covid-19 pandemic, are having to find innovative ways to stretch meagre resources while the political leadership continue to claim they are handling the situation.
Today I, together DA Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube, MP and Alfred Nzo Constituency Leader, Baxolile Nodada, MP, conducted an oversight inspection at the at Mount Ayliff Hospital and the St Patrick’s Hospital in the Alfred Nzo District municipality.
As one of the epicentres of the Covid-19 outbreak in the province, one would expect to see the rapid rollout of medical interventions to combat the disease. Instead, at the Mount Ayliff Hospital we found dedicated staff battling to make do with failing infrastructure and lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), finding innovative solutions in a hospital that is sometimes deprived of water for a month at a time.
In sharp contrast, St Patricks Hospital, where Mt Ayliff refers all its Covid-19 patients, is a state-of-the-art facility built in 2015, but it is severely understaffed and under-resourced. Three wards, including High Care, stand completely empty as they have no beds. Despite having gas lines in the walls, the ward does not even have medical gas points for patients.
Of the 395 beds that the district hospital is supposed to have, to service the 300,000 plus people of the area, it only has 242 active beds. A request to the Department for an extra 50 beds, saw just 8 delivered!
The hospital is supposed to have 18 full time doctors but is currently operating with just 9. Despite having submitted a full organogram to two Health MECs already, nothing has been done to address their staffing needs. Here too PPE is a scarce commodity, and oftentimes does not meet the required specifications.
Again, staff must be commended for their problem solving amidst the crisis, taking unused beds from other wards and creating an isolation ward capable of accommodating 10 Covid-19 patients.
I will be submitting parliamentary questions to both the Department of Public Works and the Health Department regarding these hospitals, and will be writing to Health MEC, Sindiswa Gomba, and Public Works MEC, Babalo Madikizela, to request their urgent intervention. These hospitals need to be fully equipped and fully staffed if they are to stand a chance in the ongoing fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
Alfred Nzo Constituency Leader, Baxolile Nodada, will also be writing to the Alfred Nzo District Municipality Mayor and Municipal Manager, to request that they address the water shortages at the Mount Ayliff hospital as a matter of urgency.
How is a hospital supposed to practice good hygiene, is it does not even have access to running water?
The DA will continue to fight to ensure that our hospitals are adequately resourced and that the people of this province receive quality healthcare that they are entitled to.