Stench ‘a health risk’

2014-03-21 00:00

PATIENTS at Pietermaritzburg’s Edendale Hospital are having to endure a terrible stench after a ward was flooded with sewage water.

The situation remains the same for patients and nurses at the medical outpatients department, despite several calls and e-mails by The Witness to get the Health Department to fix the problem.

A nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity described the situation as “the worst conditions you were ever asked to work under”.

“On Wednesday we vowed to stop working because we want something to be done to fix this plumbing problem which is affecting patients very badly,” she said.

The nurse said management had promised to fix the mess, but until yesterday nothing had been done.

“On Tuesday, two patients who had been waiting for beds at the outpatients department since Saturday, when the problem started, ended up collapsing,” she said.

She said it was only then that the management moved some patients to the surgical outpatients department (SOPD), with some remaining in the medical outpatients department.

A manager had also talked them out of going on strike.

Patients were not receiving proper treatment at the surgical department because it is cramped. Doctors were issuing patients with medication without seeing to it that they received proper medical attention, the nurse said.

“It is appalling; we have resorted to using our masks to be able to endure the conditions while we wait for this to be fixed.”

When The Witness visited the hospital this week. A patient waiting for a bed, who only identified herself as Cindy, said: “The stench is unbearable and we cannot complain to the nurses because they also have tried to get something done to no avail.”

She said the condition may negatively impact her health.

The sewage water was seeping from three areas of the ceiling within the medical department, with cleaners wearing masks and gloves busy mopping up and offloading buckets filled with the waste.

The Witnesswas told that the section manager at the medical department had ordered the ward to be closed on Sunday, but those instructions were never carried out.

Another nurse said since nothing had been done and this is a long weekend, the situation would probably persist until next week.

While nurses and doctors wore face masks, patients awaiting treatment sat without any protection.

Attempts to get comment from the Health Department were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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