Patients turned away in hospital blackout

2011-03-25 14:38

Patients are being turned away at one of Mpumalanga’s biggest hospitals, Rob Ferreira, because of a three day partial power outage, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said today.

“A newly installed transformer exploded on Wednesday [causing] a fire in the main transformer room and burnt the cables of the back-up generators, causing the whole hospital to be without electricity,” said DA chief whip in the province Velly Manzini.
Critical patients and babies in incubators were moved to the Nelspruit Medi-Clinic, Manzini said.

Manzini said the fate of the patients left at the hospital was uncertain and that people needing medical attention were being told to seek help from other local hospitals and clinics.

Spokesperson for the Mpumalanga health department, Mpho Gabashane, confirmed that generators had been brought in today and the hospital was running on limited power.

“We have partially restored the power but it is not enough for things like surgery to be conducted. We have a contractor on site who is trying to reconnect the transformers but we don’t know when they will be up and running again.”

He said at the time of the explosion there were 262 patients in the hospital and that six patients including four babies were transferred to another facility.

Manzini said the incident could have been avoided.

He referred to an unexplained power outage at the hospital more than a month ago which resulted in the “untimely death of a patient who could not undergo lifesaving surgery due to parts of the hospital being without electricity on that particular day”.

“Frikkie Willemse was admitted as a result of a motorbike accident. He died whilst awaiting his surgery. His family was adamant that his life could have been saved but as a result of the outage, operating theatres were not able to function. This should have been an early warning sign for problems with the power,” he said.

The DA said this afternoon that although power had been restored to parts of the hospital departments such as paediatrics, neo-natal intensive care unit, labour ward and casualty were still not operational.

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