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Deadline for Pelonomi's maternity ward set

20 July 2022

The maternity ward that has been under construction at the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein for almost a decade, is set to be completed within the next 18 months.

The chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Bongani Majola, told OFM News that they were informed during their oversight visit to determine the Free State’s state of health care, that the province's foremost trauma hospital, the Pelonomi Hospital, will have a completed maternity ward as the reconstruction has resumed. Majola explains that the resumption of the reconstruction comes after a legal battle in court between the department and the previous contractor who had failed to complete the ward.

“When the department tried to refurbish the hospital, the contractor that was appointed could not do the job at the standard that was expected,” explained Majola. He further explained that the battle between the department and the contractor took over five years. Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla, previously replied to a written question revealing that the maternity ward’s reconstruction will take 14 months from March 2022. Phaahla’s reply to Freedom Front Plus’ Philippus Adriaan van Staden also revealed that the contractor, who was previously appointed to reconstruct the maternity ward, “terminated” his contract with the hospital while the project was 40% completed. An enquiry has been sent to the department to establish whether the contractor mentioned by Majola is the same as mentioned by Phaahla.

The reconstruction of the maternity ward being on halt was previously a thorny issue at the hospital, as there were only four theatre beds being shared between the surgical and maternity ward. The latter’s theatre forms part of the unfinished maternity ward, hence the sharing of beds. Earlier in the year, operations at the maternity ward were negatively affected as it had flooded due to leaking pipes. Patients were reported to have been placed in the corridors.  

The previous strike by patients at the hospital resulted in the department coming up with solutions that will relieve the pressure of high volumes of trauma cases. The patients in question were those who had to wait for a long period of time before getting operated on. Although the department acknowledged the patients’ complaints, it was also reported that the staff at the hospital are allegedly also overwhelmed by the huge demand for orthopaedic services due to high volumes of cases of trauma, violence, and injury, which require more theatre space, time, and resources.      

During the SAHRC’s oversight visit, it was highlighted that the challenge of being understaffed is also experienced at Pelonomi Hospital. The second challenge that was highlighted during the visit was the challenge of infrastructure of the hospital. These two challenges have been a thorn in the department’s side for quite some time.

Source: News

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