Surgery on hold at Prince Mshyeni as hospital runs dry after floods

Scores of patients wait to be seen at Prince Mshyeni hospital in Umlazi, in the south of Durban.
Scores of patients wait to be seen at Prince Mshyeni hospital in Umlazi, in the south of Durban.
Image: Lwazi Hlangu

Theatre operations at Prince Mshiyeni hospital in Umlazi have been postponed because the facility doesn't have water.

Water infrastructure was damaged at the hospital during the devastating floods that claimed almost 500 lives and left thousands destitute.

On Tuesday, officials from the department of health visited the province, where more than 84 health facilities have been affected to the tune of at least R184m.

National health minister Joe Phaahla told journalists that water in the hospital storage tanks had run out and this affected machines, sterilising equipment and cleaning.

“The main supply from the municipality to the hospital's emergency water reservoir has dried up. That’s a huge concern because it’s a busy hospital that attends to almost 2,000 patients a day.”

A senior medical staff member told TimesLIVE that the situation was dire.

“Toilets can’t flush and patients can't shower, which is a disaster in any workplace, let alone a health facility. More than 30 patients are waiting for operations and it's been a week but they can't be performed because instruments cannot be washed. The list is piling up every day.”

Muzokhanyayo Mncwango, who was sitting on a hospital stretcher bed near the car park, with a bandaged foot told TimesLIVE that he had queued since 7am but couldn’t take the foul smell any longer so left the queue. The stench is from the toilets.

“I don’t understand how the hospital is not prioritised for water provision, even the shacks have water now.”

The municipality has been drawn on board to help with 40 water tanker loads a day.

Zamagugu Msomi, who was also in the queue, said her home in Umlazi was damaged during the floods so she went to live with family in Inanda. She travelled from there on Tuesday to get her medication at Mshiyeni.

“I have been here since 6am because I knew there would be a lot of people today but I haven’t been helped up to now. Most of us in the queue are here to collect our medication but they told us our files are missing so we are waiting to see if they’ve found them,” she said.

Meanwhile, provincial Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane told TimesLIVE that patients' files had not been destroyed in the disaster but admitted that the staff was not coping with finding the files because of the volume of people who were seeking help at the hospital.

However, patient records were lost in the floods in Inanda’s Newtown Community Health Centre.

The officials were shown how the floods damaged admin buildings, all electric plugs and patients files, although hospital officials said 80% can be salvaged.

Simelane said mobile units will be in used in the meantime, which is nothing new for the department.

“We’ve now decided to take all our mobile units to all areas and centres where our communities live. We will be adding doctors to the mobile teams so if there are people who need the urgent attention of a medical doctor, they can get it.”



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