Recent water tank leakages at the National District Hospital raised concern over the state of health care facilities in Bloemfontein. Three floors of the hospital were affected when tanks of about 20 000 litres began to leak, resulting in ceiling and wall damage.
According to Mondli Mvambi, spokesperson for the Free State Department of Health, the leakage happened on Sunday and floors were subsequently cleaned. “The leakage was managed. Floors have been dry since Sunday as the technicians worked on the tanker whilst our cleaners were on the floors sweeping the water and drying the floors,” explained Mvambi.
The Economic Freedom Fighter’s (EFF) Baba Sebolao stated that incidents such as leakages occur because of ageing infrastructure. “National Hospital is an old hospital. The things there are old,” he said. According to Sebolao during a walk-about through the hospital in October last year the department acknowledged that this was a concern that they would work on. “If they are working on this issue, how long do they take to do that? Is it only something that they work on when there are visitors?” asked Sebolao.
However, Mvambi objected to the opposition party’s claim that flooding occurred at the public hospital. “The choice of words to describe the incident was unfortunate, because flooding implies the extreme flow of water which could even cause drowning. That was opportunistic sensationalism from the EFF. Patient care was not compromised at all. We thank the doctors, nurses, cleaners, kitchen services and all other staff that cooperated throughout the water leakage incident,” said Mvambi.
Sebolao also claimed that health care personnel were forced to use light from cell phones during a power outage late last year. “We found that nurses were working with their cell phones while treating patients. The patients did not even eat because they could not prepare food for them because of the electricity failure,” he said.
Mvambi stated that a generator was utilised while a contractor installed the new power cable. “Lanterns were used and water was provided to the wards. The water and the electricity were restored during the day on Tuesday, 13 November 2018. The six wards affected by the damaged electricity cable were assisted by a generator as the cable was wet due to the water pipe which was damaged,” he said. Mvambi stated that the patients’ meals were not compromised. “The electricity at the main kitchen where food is prepared was not affected at all. Food was served as normal,” he added. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele