The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DoH) has reneged on earlier assurances that it is equipped to handle extended power outages at hospitals within the province.
The discovery comes after the Catherine Booth Hospital on the North Coast experienced no power for two days at the weekend, allegedly due to electrical repair work being conducted by Eskom. Fortunately, power has since been restored to the hospital.
The situation led to the hospital’s contingency plan being effected which included the activation of the power generator. However, when diesel for the generator began to run low, additional supplies were procured but could not be delivered. This after certain community members blocked the service provider from accessing the facility on the basis that he was not a local resident.
While the DA regards the actions of these individuals as deplorable, the reality is that the hospital and the DoH should have been better prepared.
In 2020, KZN Health MEC, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, responded to questions by the DA relating to provisions made for power outages at KZN’s hospitals.
In her written parliamentary reply (view here), the MEC assured the DA that her Department had the situation under control with several measures being implemented. This includes provisions to ensure that all hospitals have sufficient diesel storage capacity to see them through outages.
The DA is also aware that the issue of an Acting CEO, rather than a permanent CEO, at the hospital has been cited as one of the reasons why the facility is experiencing problems, including water shortages.
The reality is that this should have no bearing on the smooth running of this facility. The DoH has a district management team in place, whose role it is to support the Acting CEO.
The question is – what were they doing to ensure the proper functioning of this facility?
The DA expects MEC Simelane-Zulu and her Department to investigate the events at Catherine Booth Hospital and to provide the Health portfolio committee with a full explanation.