Patients have to sleep on mattresses on the floor at hugely overloaded Tembisa Hospital
Management of the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital has been left with no choice but to make patients sleep on mattresses on the floor as the facility struggles to cope with the demand for beds.
This is one of the major problems faced by the hospital in Ekurhuleni, which were detailed to provincial management of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) during a visit to the hospital on Tuesday.
Other major problems include staff shortages‚ limited working space and an unreliable CT scanner.
The visit was prompted by media reports of long queues and patients sleeping on the floor at the hospital. The commission is investigating if patients’ human rights have been violated through the problems at the hospital.
Hospital CEO Lekopane Mogaladi told the commission and reporters that with the number of medical staff available‚ the hospital was struggling to cope with the high number of patients.
Mogaladi said the hospital is servicing a larger population than what it was designed for.
He said the hospital was built in 1972 when the population of Tembisa was still small. But the population had grown substantially and the instituition is now serving patients from other parts of the province.
This was proven‚ Mogaladi added‚ by the fact that Tembisa hospital was second only to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, in Soweto, in the number of babies delivered in each year.
Mogaladi told reporters that the spatial issues had become so bad that patients had to sleep on mattresses and management was planning to buy foldable beds to cope with the demand for beds.
"In terms of the health standards‚ there is a minimum space which you must have between patient beds. But in terms of the Constitution…everybody who needs health service has to be provided….We [should be] able to use the foldable beds in the interim. When the patient is discharged‚ we fold the bed and put it aside and are able to clean that space. The mattress is likewise. Once one of the patients on the beds is discharged‚ you move that patient from the mattress to the bed and remove that mattress…It is one unfortunate situation which we are faced with as a result of population increase‚" he said.
Another big issue that has already been escalated to the Gauteng department of health is the CT scanner.
"We’ve got a very old CT scanner, which is breaking all the time. When it is broken‚ all the patients have to be sent out and the other hospitals are unable to carry the load‚" Mogaladi said.
Hospital management said the health facility was categorised as a tertiary hospital in 2012 but it that it had no regional or district hospital to support it. Thus, it struggled with the number of patients it saw.