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Desperate state of health care

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* Shocking conditions at Harmony Home * City hospital’s toilets not functioning

ABOVE: Harmony Home.

FAMILY members have exposed the shocking and unbearable conditions that patients are subjected to at Harmony Home, where they are made to sleep on the floor and are not provided with food and water, if they arrive after hours.

A family member said her sister and niece travelled from Port Nolloth and stayed overnight in Kimberley, as her sister had to consult a specialist in Bloemfontein.

“They arrived in Kimberley to stay at Harmony Home late in the evening and were not catered for, as it was after supper time. They were given a cup of coffee and tea, but were also not allowed to leave the home to buy food, while there was also no water. They were unable to bring food with them as it would have gone off without a fridge.

“They said if they left the facility and transport arrived, my sister would miss her appointment.”

She added that her sister had to leave early the next morning at 5am for Bloemfontein, before the water supply was restored.

“With the long journey and heat, my sister felt embarrassed and unhygienic, that she had to see a specialist without being able freshen up. She resorted to showering with a bottle of water.”

She indicated that there were not enough beds, where most of the patients, including the elderly and those suffering from tuberculosis, had to sleep on the floor.

“There are 10 beds although 35 patients need a place to sleep. The male patients sleep in the dorm opposite to the bathroom and women feel vulnerable because the door to the bathroom is broken and cannot lock. Anyone can walk in at any time.

“The ablution facilities are atrocious, where males and females have to share the same bathroom.

“This situation has been like this for some time. Surely a health facility should be equipped with water tanks?”

She added that there was no air conditioning and that the windows remained shut.

“My sister’s appointment was postponed to the following day and she had to spend two nights at Harmony Home.

“My sister suffered a stroke that has affected her speech. She said that the ordeal was so horrific that she cancelled her follow-up appointment in Bloemfontein because of what she had to endure. My niece registered a complaint with the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development, but has not received any feedback.”

Spokesperson for the Department of Health Lulu Mxekezo said Harmony Home health facility provided beds as well as linen for all in-patients admitted to hospital.

“Food and water are also provided from the kitchen of the hospital for all in-patients at Harmony Home.

“Patients admitted are not expected to leave the hospital unless they are discharged by health care practitioners.”

She added that the facility was for Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital (RMSH) patients who were awaiting transfer to a district hospital.

“It also accommodates outpatients who have been to the specialist clinics at RMSH and are awaiting long-distance transport home by Emergency Medical Services.”

Mxekezo added that the average length of in-patient stay was 5.5 days, depending on the condition of the patients.

Meanwhile, mothers at Galeshewe Day Hospital said that the bathroom and toilets had fallen into disrepair and had been out of order for some time, where the entrances to the doors of the restrooms had been blocked off with biohazard warning tape.

Patients said that they were unable to clean themselves after giving birth.

“There are only two functional toilets that are meant for use by staff members. These are now being used by everyone in the building including patients, males and females, and personnel.”

They added that one mother requested to be discharged so that she could go home to bath, only to return later to attend to her baby at the hospital.

“We understand that this is not private care, but these conditions are not healthy, especially after giving birth.”

The MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, yesterday committed to addressing the challenges raised by patients and staff at the Galeshewe Day Hospital.

The pokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said the MEC would “soon announce a process plan to turn things around at that facility”.