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Blackout at city hospital

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An electricity blackout took place at the newly renovated A6 ward that accommodates intensive care unit (ICU) patients at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital on Tuesday night.

A power blackout was experienced at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital this week. Picture Soraya Crowie

AN ELECTRICITY blackout took place at the newly renovated A6 ward that accommodates intensive care unit (ICU) patients at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital on Tuesday night.

An explosion was heard shortly before the power was interrupted at around 11.45pm when the ward was plunged into darkness and the lifts stopped working.

Staff, including doctors, had to make use of their cellphone lights to take care of patients.

Some staff members had not managed to charge their phones before starting the night shift and were unable to perform their duties in the dark.

“There is not even a torch in the ward. It is also not the first time that the electricity has been cut in the ward without notice.”

It was indicated that while an electrician came to inspect the source of the problem no information was provided as to what had caused the problem.

“We were afraid and were about to take our bags and run home in the event that there was an electrical explosion. The generators never kicked in and we kept on hearing a strange noise. All the computers were off and patients were on ventilators and life support machines. One of the patients was not stable and had to be intubated, anything could have happened,” staff members said.

They added that thankfully no one was in the operating theatre at the time.

“We will be held responsible and will be blamed for any fatalities that happen when the lives of patients are put at risk. No one came to check up on staff or reassure us that we were not in danger.”

It was reported that the power was restored at around 1am, although there was no hot water and water had to be boiled in a kettle to wash patients.

“There is a shortage of sheets and if they become soiled patients have to lie on blankets.”

Staff indicated that they do not feel safe as the door to the ICU unit does not lock.

“There is no security stationed at the entrance and members of the public and patients have free access to the ward.”

Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Lulu Mxekezo said Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital has back-up generators for all areas of the hospital.

“The power cut was caused outside the hospital and the municipality was called to assist with repairs.”

She added that new cables had to be connected following an incident of cable theft of the generator providing electricity to A block.

“A new generator is expected to be delivered soon to augment the back-up capacity at the hospital.”

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