Home News Union calls for mental hospital to be ‘condemned’

Union calls for mental hospital to be ‘condemned’

394

The Public Servants Association has requested the Department of Labour to issue a prohibition notice on the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital as patients and staff have been plunged into darkness due to a non-functioning generator.

The Kimberley Mental Health Hospital. File picture: Soraya Crowie

THE PUBLIC Servants Association (PSA) has requested the Department of Labour to issue a prohibition notice on the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital as patients and staff have been plunged into darkness due to a non-functioning generator.

PSA full-time office-bearer Victor Selabe stated that the R2 billion building was not safe for occupation.

“Less than five years after the facility was opened, it is uninhabitable. We supplied the nurses and security with torches as they have to take care of around 160 patients in the dark. The generator has been out of order for weeks, and when it is not functioning the whole facility is without power,” said Selabe.

He indicated that the geysers, laundromat, hot water system and lights were also not working.

“Staff are concerned as they are working with mentally ill patients who may become aggressive.

“Medication cannot be stored on the premises because of the cold storage requirements. The linen has to be taken to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital and patients are complaining that they are getting cold and that they are being bitten by lice.”

He added that the generator was old, burnt-out and was leaking diesel underneath the foundation of the hospital.

“A fire could break out if someone lights a match or leaves an unattended cigarette in the veld.”

PSA provincial manager Steve Ledibane believed that patients and staff would be accommodated in more humane conditions if they were relocated to West End Hospital or the military hospital.

He added that the Department of Health was given 60 days in which to rectify the problem and appoint a service provider.

“To date, no improvements have been made and no extension was granted. Ever since the first notice was served in March, there has been no progress in rectifying the situation. The Department of Labour must get a court order to obtain a prohibition notice,” said Ledibane.

“Patients must bathe in cold water, while the toilets can’t be flushed. It is a health risk and nurses are afraid that psychotic patients may attack them if they inject them in the dark.”

Ledibane indicated that the hospital was extremely cold during the winter months.

“The hospital does not have anti-venom even though puff adder snakes and Cape cobras are commonly seen in the area,” he added.

“Staff are caring for prisoners awaiting trial or offenders who have been sent for mental observation and there are safety concerns as the biometric system cannot work without electricity.”

Both the Department of Health and the Department of Labour have not yet responded to media enquiries.

Previous articleUnion pickets dept over ‘harassment, victimisation’
Next articleFifa World Cup qualifiers: Losing to Nigeria not an option for Bafana coach