Sunday, 28 November, 2021
HomeWeekly RoundupPE hospitals' linen shortage: patients resort to curtains and newspapers

PE hospitals' linen shortage: patients resort to curtains and newspapers

Linen cupboards at the Port Elizabeth Provincial and Livingstone Hospitals are running bare and doctors are struggling to admit patients because they do not even have enough hospital gowns or sheets to prepare beds for them, according to hospital sources.

Doctors also had to use ward curtains to cover children with cancer in one of the wards, they say. Many civil society organisations in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro raised the alarm that patients had no blankets at the hospital. One patient was seen trying to cover herself with newspaper to stay warm.

According to a Daily Maverick report, it is understood that desperate health workers are begging hospital management to allow them to call on the public to donate linen or to help clean the wards.

Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo has confirmed there were problems with linen at the hospitals. “The machine is not working. That matter is outsourced. There are discussions to look at putting up appropriate laundry services for health facilities in the area.”

But according to confirmed information from several hospital sources, laundry services are not being outsourced because of union resistance to the idea. The DM reports it appears the linen-management programme at the hospitals is riddled with misunderstandings.

Doctors have been watching the slow depletion of linen for the past four months and now the cupboards are bare. Some had to beg for just three bed sheets to admit three patients. Since March, non-urgent patients who arrive at the hospital for treatment from across the province have been turned away since beds are limited owing to linen problems.

Bags full of soiled blankets, gowns and other linen were discovered in an abandoned ward at Provincial Hospital on Tuesday. Health and safety investigators also found bags full of dirty linen in a warehouse at Livingstone Hospital in 2020.

Also, DM reports, several weeks’ worth of contaminated laundry – from patients with COVID-19 – have been piling up unwashed in a storeroom at Livingstone Hospital as the hospital’s laundry facility remained closed.

This was confirmed by the Health Department, which said eight workers tested positive for COVID-19.


Full Daily Maverick report (Open access)

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