No gloves or nappies at run-down Northdale

2008-05-20 00:00

MEDICAL supply shortages at Northdale Hospital are putting the lives of both patients and health workers at risk as basic essentials like gloves and syringes are unavailable at the busy hospital.

Staff at Northdale reported that infection control products and detergents are not available at the hospital.

It is alleged that the stores department at the hospital has not ordered supplies in three months and staff fear that the situation may reach crisis proportions and patients will be turned away without receiving treatment because there are no medicines or supplies.

The Witness is in possession of a list of supplies that have run out of stock at the hospital, detailing more than 20 items, some of which are medicinal products.

It is alleged that the hospital has no nappies for newborn babies.

“Postnatal care is poor. Newborn babies wear adult nappies and there are no [sanitary] pads for mothers,” a staff member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said. “There are no bin bags, stationery, light bulbs, crutches … it’s a crisis.”

Some staff members claim they were forced to buy cleaning equipment with their own money. “Some of my colleagues bought mops at R30 each because the hospital could not provide any.

Nurses and staff are doing what they can to keep the wards clean and give patients proper medical treatment, but it is impossible. Sometimes we even risk being infected or spreading the diseases because there are no proper syringes or gloves.”

The Witness was invited into the hospital during the day and saw first-hand the conditions there. Light fittings in some wards and corridors have no light bulbs and staff claim it is pitch dark at night. The ceiling is uncovered, with wires and tubes exposed.

KZN department of Health spokesman Leon Mbangwa confirmed that there are shortages of medical supplies at the hospital, but denied that the situation has reached a state of crisis.

“Northdale Hospital at this stage is running low on medical supplies, but not to the point of having zero stock. No patient has left the hospital without receiving proper treatment because of this,” he said.

According to Mbangwa, mechanisms have been put in place to deal with the shortages, but he failed to explain what led to the current situation. “The hospital is receiving stock and is expecting more deliveries this week and beyond,” he said.

“Some lights in non-functional areas are switched off during the night as an electricity cost-saving measure. There is always an electrician on call to attend to any urgent requirements, even at night, including changing of globes in patient care areas.”

However, when The Witness visited the hospital it was during the day and only a few light bulbs were operational. Staff said that light bulbs are not available from the store room.

Mbangwa said the hospital ceiling is in the process of being replaced with a new suspended ceiling to improve the aesthetics of the hospital. “The project is on track and management is satisfied with the progress so far,” he said.

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