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Floundering Rahima Moosa Hospital ‘needs to admit it has a crisis’

The Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg continues to make headlines, with its facilities buckling under the strain of faulty equipment, lack of sufficient beds, and heartbreaking stories of pregnant women sleeping on floors and in corridors as it battles to cope with the daily flood of births. Power outages and water issues are ongoing, as are equipment breakdowns.

Last week MedicalBrief reported on an open letter written by paediatrician Dr Tim De Maayer to the Department of Health, detailing how South Africa’s children are bearing the brunt of a failing public health system.

In his letter, released on 22 May, and which was backed up by other doctors and medical specialists, De Maayer referred to Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital, where problems like loadshedding, water shortages and an overburdening of the system were affecting the lives of young patients.

The institution is the only dedicated mother and child public hospital in South Africa. It has 225 beds and delivers 16,000 babies a year — on average, 44 a day.

Three months ago, a video was posted by Ashley Sauls, a member of the mayoral committee of health and social development in Johannesburg, showing pregnant women on the floor, while others were seen trying to sleep in chairs in the early hours of the morning.

Sunday Independent reports that Channah Adams, from Claremont, Johannesburg, was one of those women sleeping on the floor, and said she went through through hell at the hospital in February to give birth.

“I sat with labour pain for three days because apparently the labour ward was full and the beds occupied. We had to scream at the nurses to get help.”

She said there were a lot of women in that ward and some didn’t even have chairs on which to sit.

“There were open beds but we were told those were used to check patients’ dilation. We slept on chairs. It was very uncomfortable.

“The disrespect women endure during birth at Rahima Moosa hospital is inhumane. These nurses don’t know the definition of ‘nurse’.”

She considers herself lucky she was discharged with a healthy baby.

The Gauteng Department of Health says the hospital has noted the complaint and the matter has been escalated to its Quality and Assurance Unit for investigation.

The department said over the past decade the hospital has experienced an increased patient load, from 10,000 to 16,000 deliveries per year, the second-highest in SA after Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. It has a 228 approved bed occupancy rate of 115% in obstetrics and neonates, it said.

The department said the hospital has re-purposed 22 beds to accommodate more antenatal patients in the past two years, bringing the total to 56, which is still insufficient as the hospital treats patients from other provinces as well.

“The the long-term solution is to increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in the region,” said Gauteng Health Department spokesperson Kwara Kekana.

The DA Gauteng’s shadow health MEC, Jack Bloom, said the department should simply admit it had a crisis.

“A case in point is the 16-year-old CT scanner that has been broken for more than three months at Rahima Moosa. The department said the breakdown was due to normal wear and tear, and a part was ordered from the Netherlands.

“After installation, it was discovered that yet another part was faulty, which was ordered from Philips SA, but it turned out there was yet another fault that caused the newly installed part to blow out,” said Bloom.

He said the key question was why there was not a continuous maintenance contract for the scanner and a plan to replace it when it inevitably broke down after being used for its normal lifespan.

“The first step in addressing a crisis is to admit that there is a crisis. Dr Tim De Maayer is correct to say that ‘things are falling apart’ in his open letter about the crisis at the hospital,” Bloom said.

The hospital has made a submission to the City of Johannesburg to be excluded from the ongoing load shedding schedule to ensure minimal interruption to services.

Sunday Independent Pressreader article – Hospital stay a ‘living nightmare’ (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Doctors back paediatrician’s account of Rahima Moosa collapse


Viral video leads to investigations at Rahima Moosa Hospital


Maverick investigation: Mother and Child Hospital's CEO denies any crisis




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