Poor maintenance and water shortages are causing further delays in finishing the construction of the theatre unit at the Boitumelo Hospital in the Free State according to Montseng Tsiu, chairperson of the provincial legislature committee on education, health and social service.
Tsiu and other members of the committee recently visited the construction site to monitor the delays in construction at the biggest hospital in the Fezile Dabi District.
She says she is worried about delayed progress since her last visit to the site eight months ago when she was still the MEC for health in the province.
“This construction has taken an unnecessarily long time due to the first contractor abandoning the work without clear explanation. I believe the completion of the remaining work will be done by the beginning of the new year,” Tsiu says.
Last year Tsiu announced Boitumelo Hospital as one of the hospitals that received “ideal” status in the 2021/22 financial year even though the facility had paused some services due to the prolonged construction.
An ideal health facility, as per the national health department is one “good infrastructure, adequate staff, adequate medicine and supplies, good administrative processes, and sufficient adequate bulk supplies”.
Less than “ideal”
Speaking to the media during the oversight visit, Tsiu admits that the hospital’s “ideal” needs to be reviewed.
“The construction is leaving people out of pocket because they have to travel to other facilities for services that aren’t being provided as a result.”
Another member of the committee, Sam Mashinini applauds the second contractor who took over where the previous one left off. He says it is not easy to finish what you did not start.
“This construction has taken a lot of time and taxpayers money. And it has also caused loss of hope for the people of Maokeng who have to go to other hospitals for operations,” he says.
The construction started in 2021 with a R31 million tag price. In 2022 the department appointed another construction company with a tag price of R8m.
Mashinini adds that he believes the construction has helped many local businesses as subcontractors.
“Although we are worried about what this has caused in terms of expected service [being unavailable] we are quietly satisfied that it has managed to help small medium businesses who are subcontractors from the same area,” Mashinini says.
Patients are worst affected
Meanwhile the Health-e News can report that the delayed construction is not only the problem facing the facility. Patients and health workers have also complained about orthopaedic surgical problems facing the health system in the area.
§The construction has particularly caused challenges for patients who need orthopaedic surgeries due to a lack of beds for them. Although other operations have been moved to other hospitals since the construction, the patients who need orthopaedic surgery have to wait out the construction.
Sister Anne Moreki works at the facility as a midwife, she confirms that the challenges still continue at the facility.
“Some sections within the facility aren’t working. This unnecessarily creates turmoil because you can see that some patients need immediate help. It is over a year now and their work is continuing but we don’t see any progress,” says Moreki.
Last year in October when Tsiu visited the Boitumelo Hospital one of the ventilators and CCTV cameras were not working. The same challenge persists a year later. The committee has promised to lodge an investigation.
Resident Thapelo Lekota is still worried that the hospital cannot be relied on again ahead of the festive season. Kroonstad forms part of the national route via the N1 and experiences heavy traffic. Patients involved in car accidents on the N1 are usually taken to Boitumelo due to it being the biggest hospital in the district.
“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 never-ending construction, the biggest hospital in the region will have to divert patients to other hospitals. The government needs to prioritise suspension of the loadshedding to the construction site as it delays progress,” he says. – Health-e News