Updated 03 July 2015

Just hope you never have to go to KwaMhlanga Hospital

A water crisis at KwaMhlanga Hospital has forced patients to bring their own bedding as soiled laundry piles up. [See images]

A water supply problem at KwaMhlanga Hospital in Mpumalanga is impacting on patients receiving clean bedding with some being forced to bring their own.

This is according to DA MPL and spokesperson on health and social development, Jane Sithole, who spoke to Health24 in a telephonic interview on Wednesday.

This followed an oversight visit at the hospital on Tuesday, just one day after ANC MEC for health Gillion Mashego rejected allegations of patients not having clean linen.

"It is not true that there are no blankets and linen. All patients are provided with clean blankets and linen", Mashego said in an emailed response to Health24 on Monday.

Read: KwaMhlanga is not a 'horror hospital'

The department of health in Mpumalanga admitted to Health24 that the KwaMhlanga hospital has been hit by water outages, but it dismissed claims that it is jeopardising the health of patients who claimed that the water shortage was so severe that their relatives had to bring water and clean bedding to the hospital.

"We have spoken to a few patients who asked their relatives to bring clean bedding for them and we can confirm that we have seen it too. We did not take pictures to protect the privacy of the patients," said Sithole.

dirty bedding, KwaMhlanga hospital

She said the party found the soiled bedding scattered on the ground where it was piling up. She said the bedding had to be transported to either Middelburg or Witbank to be washed.

"The other thing is that it isn't collected every day to ensure that there is clean bedding regularly. It just happens randomly and this results in the hospital running out of clean bedding for patients."

She explained that the hospital's water troubles are caused by low water pressure, which is also part of a broader problem with the pressure system in the entire Thembisile Hani municipality.

"The pressure of the water is extremely low. The contractor is installing a pump to assist the pressure to help supply the hospital with water," said Sithole.

"The problem with the pressure system affects the whole Thembisile Hani municipality where it seems to be permanent," said claimed. "Residents in the area have also complained that the water pressure is too low."

dirty bedding, KwaMhlanga hospital

Sithole said DA councillors will be meeting with households to assess the water challenges before addressing it with the municipality. "We will be taking it up with the municipality so that these residents have proper access to water."

Sithole said when the DA visited the hospital mid-June, the hospital was in a poor state, poiting out that the water outage resulted in toilets not flushing, laundry not being washed and dishes piling up.

"There was no water at all. It was dry. The hospital was in a terrible state and that is why I urgently asked the MEC to intervene."

She also welcomed the action taken by Mashego to improve the operation of the hospital.   

"We are appreciative that the MEC took action over the water problems at the hospital. He also committed to dealing with the issue of general workers which we welcomed."

Mashego indicated that the hospital was experiencing a shortage of cleaning staff ever since it expanded from a 50 bed hospital to a 150 bed hospital. He said processes were in place to employ more cleaning staff.

Sithole added that the hygiene of the hospital has already improved. "We went into the toilets and things were in a better condition than at the time of our initial visit," she said.

"We are hoping that the MEC will give the hospital more attention to improve it for the people of KwaMhlanga."

dirty bedding, KwaMhlanga hospital

Also read:

Should patients remind health workers to wash their hands?

SA to get medical ombudsman

2013-14: A successful health story in Western Cape


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