Home South African It’s a ‘miracle’ that no life was lost in Bloem hospital fire...

It’s a ‘miracle’ that no life was lost in Bloem hospital fire – union

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The cause of the fire at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein, which saw 83 patients evacuated, is still unknown.

A fire broke out at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein on the weekend and 83 patients were evacuated. Picture: Free State Health Department (Facebook)

ON SUNDAY, a fire broke out at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein, which saw 83 patients evacuated and transferred to Botshabelo District Hospital, Universitas Academic Hospital and Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. It started outside the paediatric ward and spread through the first and second floor of the building, said Free State Department of Health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi.

Mvambi confirmed that there were no injuries sustained among the staff members and patients. He said fire responders acted swiftly in evacuating patients.

“The Hospital Disaster Plan, Mangaung Metro Fire and Rescue Services with various EMS services were activated and they responded swiftly to aid in the safe evacuation of patients. Patients are prioritised in line with the need for continuous care in line with their various ailments,” Mvambi said.

Although the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) Free State branch thanked the provincial Health Department for ensuring the safety of the patients and staff, it also listed key issues the department must attend to to avoid similar incidents in the future.

The union called on the department to formulate health and safety committees in health facilities as a matter of urgency to prevent further incidents.

A fire broke out at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein on the weekend and 83 patients were evacuated. Picture: Free State Health Department (Facebook)

According to Denosa, the committee will ensure that hospitals and other institutions are compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act for the safety of both patients and health-care personnel.

“Denosa deems it a miracle that no life was lost nor were there any injuries when the institution does not have a health and safety committee in place. With the health and safety committee in place, issues like unobstructed emergency exits, fire detectors and alarms inside various units of the facilities will be ensured and championed, including regular safety drills for the staff so that everybody knows what to do during the time of emergency,” said the union.

As staff members and patients were transferred to other local hospitals, Denosa raised its concern about transport affordability for nurses who will be placed in facilities further from their homes.

“We also call on the department to include unions in the deployment of staff to various facilities, as this process entails a change in the conditions of work for the workers.

“Some nurses will be taken further away from their places of residence during this deployment to various facilities and will thus incur extra costs. Ways of ensuring that they do not incur extra costs from their pockets must be explored so that they are not punished financially for the incident that they did not cause,” Denosa said.

The union implored the department to render therapy and psychological assistance to staff members as they worked tirelessly for patients’ safety.

“We call on the department to ensure that all the health-care personnel undergo psycho-social support as they are both emotionally and psychologically disturbed by the incident,” Denosa said.

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