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Lifts at city hospital out of order

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“I had a Caesarean section and my stitches are bursting because of having to walk up and down the stairs as I am staying at the lodge.”

UPKEEP CRISIS: Pregnant women at the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital have been forced to walk up and down three flights of stairs after the lifts at the hospital broke down on Friday. Picture: Soraya Crowie

A MOTHER who went into labour yesterday had to be carried up the stairs on a stretcher at Kimberley’s Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital as the lifts at the maternity wing have been out of order since Friday last week.

Mothers of newborn and premature babies are forced to walk up and down the stairs to attend to their babies as the lifts to the maternity, neonatal, burns, tuberculosis and surgical cardiothoracic units are not working.

Nurses and medical staff have to walk up five flights of stairs in order to perform their duties.

Catering staff are expected to carry food, utensils and plates to patients, while workers contracted to remove medical waste have to carry the boxes down several flights of stairs.

A patient, Rochelle le Roux, who recently gave birth to a premature baby who is now a few days old, said yesterday that she had to climb up and down the stairs five times a day to feed her baby.

“I had a Caesarean section and my stitches are bursting because of having to walk up and down the stairs as I am staying at the lodge,” said Le Roux.

Eben Rooi, whose baby daughter has been at the hospital for a month, said that he wanted to have her transferred to a private hospital in Kuruman.

“She only weighs 850 grams and will remain inside an incubator until she has gained enough weight. I have to travel to Kimberley every weekend and it has cost me R10 000 for petrol this month. Having to walk up and down the stairs is a huge inconvenience.”

DA provincial leader Andrew Louw called on the MEC for Health to account for the millions of rand that were spent on the lifts and ailing infrastructure that is out of order.

“The upkeep of the infrastructure at the Kimberley hospital, including the lifts, and the issue of security, are not new challenges. In fact, this year, millions of rand were meant to be spent on replacing the lifts.”

Louw added that the air conditioners at the old Curomed facility, for orthopaedic and ophthalmology services, were not working because of copper cable theft.

“Someone apparently also broke into the pump room and stole electronics as well. It is now so hot in the old Curomed building that staff cannot work there. This in turn is placing further strain on the main facility.”

Louw said that apart from the malfunctioning lifts, the metal roof and ceiling of the hospital also needed to be replaced.

“All of the cast iron sewage pipes that are fitted all around the building are also in need of replacement and if one of them bursts this will result in a crisis.”

The spokesperson for the Office of the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that MEC Fufe Makatong had received reports on the challenges being experienced at the hospital over the weekend and had done an inspection yesterday afternoon to make an assessment of the situation.

He said a detailed response would follow today.