PALAPYE: The grave conditions of Palapye Primary Hospital (PPH) expose staff, particularly nurses to abuse from frustrated patients, the hospital management has revealed.
The staff raised the concerns when they summed up the terrible conditions of the health facility to a delegation of councillors from the Palapye Administration Authority (PAA) who were visiting recently.
The visit, according to PAA chairperson, Lesedi Phuthego was to appreciate the burdens of the hospital. He said councillors persistently raised a series of complaints about the health facility at the PAA house.
“After all this cry from the councillors and the community, we saw it imperative as stakeholders that we appreciate physically the challenges of the hospital,” explaining the reasons for their courtesy visit to the hospital management.
The chief medical officer at the PPH, Dr Assenga Muramba who spoke on behalf of the management said the facility was “too old and overwhelmed” by its users.
He said because the hospital is failing to handle the daily numbers of the users, service delays were unavoidable and that frustrate patients and other clients.
“Nurses and other staff are abused as a result of all the delays but the problem is beyond the hospital,” Muramba said when briefing the PAA delegation.
He added, “Palapye hospital is one of the busiest primary hospitals in the country. it is equivalent to a District hospital but it still receives a quota of primary hospitals and that amounts to great shortages.”
The 50-bed hospital, built in the 1970’s serve nine clinics, 19 health posts and 10 mobile stops, all of which refer patients to the hospital.
Primarily, the hospital saw about 130 to 180 patients per day and about 1, 000 a month but that has ballooned to approximately 700 patients a day.
The fifty-bed wards accommodate over 120 patient daily. The maternity block capacity is 22 beds and the hospital registers at least 170 normal deliveries per month.
It has only a three-bed delivery room, “but we get over that a day and we are forced to compromise,” the chief medical officer said.
“Sometimes our beds are broken, and we have to put the mattress on the floor. We also have dire shortage of bedding as well. We receive blankets in kind, but they are usually the kind that get old too quick because of constant washing.”
He noted that sometimes they have to offload the patients they admit far from their families at Sekgoma Memorial Hospital in Serowe because of this lack of accommodation.
At times even referring a patient, he said, was a predicament because of lack of transport. “Our Ambulances are overused and they are constantly on breakdowns.”
In fact, he said a lot of things at the hospital were on a continual breakdown because they are overused due to the numbers of the patients that are more than triple the capacity of the hospital.
Recently, he noted that their hot water boilers were broken, and visitors were asked to bring hot water for patients admitted at the hospital, which he admitted was a problem for patients that were from the neighbouring villages.
The critical x-ray machine for the hospital that lies in an accident-prone A1 highway is always broken down due to overuse. The machine has not been working since 2017.
Muramba revealed they had been promised the machine for over three years and are still waiting. He noted that they used to do about 4 000 x-rays when the machine was functional.
The hospital performs over 200 caesarean deliveries and registers about 30 ectopic pregnancies annually that also need the scan. The theatre is a ticking time bomb. The oxygen system that connects the gases from outside is broken and the gas cylinders have been put inside the tiny room for direct connection.
He noted the problems were countless and they all owe to over capacitate the hospital. He said they could relocate some services to the clinics but there were no residents doctors due to a shortage.
“The capacity can no longer meet the demand. Shortage of space has been a long-standing issue and it frustrates our clients, we are really struggling but we are trying despite the whole cry from the patients,” Muramba said.
Dr Calistus Gobotswang echoed similar sentiments. He said there was no space in the old facility and there was a great risk of infection from patient to patient.
“Hygiene is a problem. We can’t clean enough. Our laundry machines clean more than they can handle. Our equipment is old and prone to breakdowns. We understand the frustrations of the patients,” he chipped in.
Councillor Kabo Ketshogile of Lerala East said until the Ministry of Health delivers the long-promised 170-bed hospital to the village the situation would not change. He said they had tried to speak as councillors for a long time but their efforts fall on deaf ears.
His counterpart of Lerala West, Gabagopole Sebele, advised his colleagues not to give up in advocating for the new hospital in Palapye.
“This situation is bad and it needs political intervention. Our clinics are far much better than this hospital, we should stand up and find ways of improving this hospital,” Sebele said.
Councillor George Makhura said he was happy the PAA has finally answered his call of three years to visit the facility and appreciate first hand its appalling conditions.
“After three years we have finally made the three kilometres to see how our people live in danger posed by our poor health facility. Patients’ lives are at risk, and our nurses are also in danger from our frustrated patients. This problem needs immediate attention,” he said.