COVID-19 patients continue to fill hospitals, especially those with already limited capacity. At the Job Shimankana Tabane Hospital in Rustenburg, as the COVID-19 ward filled, pregnant women were forced to sleep on the hospitals floor.
Heavily pregnant women who had tested positive for COVID-19 slept on a blanket on the cold floor, while others lay across hard benches in the hospitals corridor over the weekend of 9 April to 11 April. The women were supposed to be admitted to the COVID-19 ward, but the ward was already at capacity and they could not be placed in the normal maternity ward. A citizen took photos of the overcrowding and posted it to Facebook.
The provincial department visited the hospital to inspect the incident.
“As we all know, people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have to be isolated. This means that the pregnant women have to sleep in the COVID-maternity ward. Due to the COVID-maternity ward being full, this resulted in the incident that transpired over the weekend,” said Tebogo Lekgethwane, spokesperson for the department.
“The biggest challenge at the facility is space to create more beds. Many of our hospitals are receiving more patients than their capacity. Rustenburg in particular needs another district hospital because of fast population growth in the area,” said Lekgethwane.
Finding solutions for strained facilities
As Rustenburg’s population has grown, the hospital has seen an increase of patients. The pandemic Lekgethwane says the department is doing all it can to ensure that patients receive adequate care. Earlier this month, Health MEC Madoda Sambatha introduced reclining seats at the hospital, which can be converted into beds.
“Though the hospital is receiving a lot of patients, there is always a plan in place to accommodate all of them and ensure they all receive health services,” said Lekgethwane.
The department says it has also partnered with the Royal Bafokeng administration and mining houses in the platinum belt to develop a tertiary hospital which could alleviate pressure on the Job Shimankana Tabane in the future.
At another hospital last year, Sambatha apologised to the families of patients who also forced to sleep on the floor for up to 16 hours at the Brits District Hospital. He admitted that the incident highlighted serious management challenges.
In 2018, the National Department of Health placed the North West Department of Health under administration due to corruption and maladministration.—Health-e News