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Boitumelo Hospital grinds to a halt amid contractor issues

Contractor issues: Boitumelo Hospital grinds to a halt
(Photo: Moroesi Ramorapeli - Mooketsa)
Written by Molefi Sompane

 

Patients seeking medical care at the Boitumelo Hospital in Maokeng, just outside Kroonstad in the Free State, have been turned away due to issues with contractors.

Surgeries and other vital services have been called off until further notice. The Free State Health MEC, Montsheng Tsiu, however, said that problems have been solved at the hospital.

“There were delays caused by the old contractor which affected services at the facility. We had to appoint a new contractor since the old one had failed dismally in getting things done in time,” she said.  

Media lies

Tsiu denies that vital services, such as surgeries, were paused. She added that some media outlets had lied in their reports about the hospital.  

“We’ve seen false reports about non-service within the hospital’s theatres, which I can confirm, is working as we speak. I don’t understand the ploy of some media houses to tarnish our name as the department. There are problems at Boitumelo but services are ongoing. We cancelled the previous contractor because he wasn’t sticking to our arrangement,” Tsiu added.

Following her comments in the media, Democratic Alliance Counsellor in the ANC-run Moqhaka Municipality, Mbali Mnaba accused the ANC government of gambling with people’s lives.

‘No Plan B in place’

“We conducted several oversight visits at Boitumelo since its so-called refurbishment began. We realised that the department did not have plan B for the other sections of the hospital,” she said.

“I said this previously, and I’ll say it again: Boitumelo is a good facility that needs to be managed well and have passionate staff. I still believe that the government is playing with people’s lives, not only at Boitumelo but all the hospitals in the province,” said Mnaba. 

The Boitumelo Regional Hospital is the only regional hospital in the Fezile Dabi District and it has over five feeder hospitals.

Low morale among staff

Staff at the facility reported having low morale because they feel they can’t perform as expected.

Anna Moreki is a theatre nurse at the facility. She said several procedures had been postponed during the refurbishment period. 

“We feel as if we’re not working. Our morale is down and we hope the construction work ends soon because it disturbs us and prohibits us from taking care of our patients,” Moreki said.

Moreki confirmed the lack of beds for patients who need orthopaedic surgeries. 

“Some sections within the facility aren’t working. This unnecessarily creates turmoil because you can see that some patients need immediate help,” said Moreki.

It has also been reported that none of the air ventilators are in working order.

Festive season concerns

Resident Thapelo Lekota is worried that the hospital cannot be relied on ahead of the festive season. Kroonstad forms part of the national route via the N1 and experiences heavy loads of traffic. 

“We all know that the facility helps a lot during the festive period. Whether it’s with road accident victims or any other casualties. With this neverending construction, the biggest hospital in the region will have to divert patients to other hospitals where load shedding affects operations,” he said. 

Although many hospitals in other areas like the Moroka and Botshabelo districts also need upgrades, the Boitumelo Hospital was identified as the most urgent, even though the process started in 2009. Since then, the hospital has been spending taxpayers’ money while patients continue to suffer.  

It is believed that the national health ministry is funding the construction at Boitumelo. With no definite timeline in place, billions will continue to be poured into the project.  

Dr Kabelo Mahasa, husband of the troubled MEC for Sports Art and Culture, Limakatso Mahasa, who is the clinical manager at Boitumelo Hospital, the last information they received was that a new contractor has been appointed.

Lack of theatre availability

“I can confirm right now that R6 million has been allocated for work on the operation theatres that aren’t functioning. We have six in total, but only one of them is working. The new contractor was appointed end of October and construction is expected to resume as early as possible,” said Mahasa.

He said that the current theatre can handle at least 20 surgeries a day.

“Emergency caesarean sections, as well as appendix removals and orthopaedic surgeries are performed. So we have extreme pressure, but even under those conditions, we still deliver,” he said. 

“Sometimes, orthopaedic surgeries are postponed in the case of other emergencies,” said Mahasa. – Health-e News 

 

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Molefi Sompane

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