In December, Health-e News reported on the unacceptable service patients received at Pelonomi Regional Hospital in Bloemfontein. Free State Health MEC Montsheng Tsiu has since told Health-e News that the department and hospital management will meet in search of urgent solutions. 

Late last year, Mpuse Thamae, a mother of a patient, took to social media to report that pregnant women were forced to sleep on the floor at the facility. 

The post read: “Bathong jwale ee ya baimana ba high risk ba robalang ditulong pelonomi hospital ho sena dibethe ha hona hore baka iswa bo national hospital cos wow ba bang haba tsebe leho tsamaya maoto a ruruhile 💔💔(Guys what is this thing of high risk pregnant women at at Pelonomi Hospital who sleeps on the floor and on chairs. Why can’t they transfer people to National Hospital?”

Mother shares harrowing experience

Thamae told Health-e News that her daughter was booked to give birth on 12 December but went into labour a day early.

“When we got there, it was late, around 19:30. We found other girls and mothers sleeping on the floor and others on chairs. A nurse came and told us they don’t have enough beds,” said Thamae.

Her daughter had to lie on a mattress and wait her turn for over two days. It was during a period when the hospital had to deal with an influx of emergencies, with only 19 beds available.

Thamae is happy that there will be more space and beds soon.  “I’m glad the construction is nearing an end and we won’t be sleeping on the floor or chairs.”

Construction on the maternity ward has been ongoing for a decade.

Tsiu calls for action

Tsiu admits that some problems were beyond management’s powers, and the department has some responsibility. 

“Pelonomi cannot fail the people of the Free State. It is the biggest facility that welcomes thousands daily and we should do more to ensure that we are covering important things. I want our people to know that this construction was halted by a court case which was brought by the old construction company which did not honour our agreements and we had to remove it. We appointed the new one and it is working around the clock to finish the job,” she said.

Construction at the hospital began in 2021 but was delayed after the contractor, Pasta Civil Works,  took the department to court when its cancelled the contract for non-compliance. However, their challenge failed.  Work resumed in 2022 after a new contractor was appointed.

Tsiu added: “We acknowledge that there are many things we need to fix at Pelonomi. Old equipment and infrastructure top the list. Once seen to, our people can get the services they need while we also increase staff numbers. 

Procurement problems a thing of the past

The MEC said procurement problems at the facility had ceased.

“National Treasury has long given Pelonomi the green light to procure all it needs to render the services. Management is also busy with  investigations for those situations beyond our control,” said Tsiu. 

According to Tsiu, paramedics are now told if there are beds available when they call in. “Pelonomi can now manage the influx, and we hope people can adhere to a new system put in place to manage bed availability.” – Health-e News