Wednesday, 17 April, 2024
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Estcourt Hospital staff lugging buckets from tankers for patients’ baths

Major water shortages in the area resulted in Estcourt Hospital staff in northern KwaZulu-Natal having to boil kettles of water in the kitchen which they then decanted into buckets to give patients a warm bath.

The shortage began the weekend after Youth Day (16 June) and was resolved only on 25 June. News24 reports that tankers had to be relied on to provide water, with medical staff filling up buckets and carrying them on to the hospital premises.

The uThukela District Municipality has blamed ageing infrastructure and flooding in the province in April for its failure to provide a consistent water supply.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary Mbali Sabela said: “It is not the job of our members to collect water from trucks for patients.” She added that the hospital’s reservoir systems should change.

"Most hospitals have reservoir tanks but if they don’t have enough water, the pump will not work. The department needs to sort out these tanks so that they can pump even when water levels are low.”

After complaints to the Health Department’s district manager, water trucks were sent to the hospital, “but then 30 minutes later, they were gone”.

A hospital staff member said everyone in the hospital was affected.

“We were being assisted with a small tank that management tried to arrange with a local garage. It was difficult because when a person is sick, they require a certain level of care that we could not give. Even the toilets were full and dirty … the environment was smelly and demoralising."

uThukela District Municipality spokesperson Jabulani Mkhonza said the water shortages were “mainly caused by the ageing infrastructure”.

“We had pump failures twice in two weeks that we managed to resolve within 12 hours, although our turnaround time is 48 hours. Furthermore, we had about five burst pipes from the pumping main to the hospital, which also contributed to water shortages.”

Mkhonza said they previously advised the hospital to construct its own 48-hour storage tank to prevent unplanned interruptions “while the municipality is also in the process of refurbishing the Archie Rodell (Water Treatment) Plant and replacing the ageing bulk and reticulation network".

uThukela councillor Thys Janse van Rensburg said water shortages hampered healthcare because water is “the principal agent when it comes to hygiene”.

"Calls to the uThukela District Municipality to improve water service delivery and communication during times of crises, seem to be falling on deaf ears,” he added.

 

News24 article – It's 'terrible': Nurses resort to boiling water in kettles for patients as shortages hit KZN hospital (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Estcourt Hospital guards fired, nurse suspended, following assault on patient

 

KZN floods: 318 autopsies, 80 healthcare facilities damaged, fears of disease

 

SA healthcare: It's not collapsed, merely distressed — Motsoaledi

 

 

 

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