South Africa

‘No water and electricity’: Chaos at Lenasia South Hospital

Gauteng’s Lenasia South Hospital has no power nor water supply, leaving patients in critical care without drinking water and proper monitoring as medical equipment remain off.

Dark wards and passages at night and clogged toilets are the order of the day at the Lenasia public hospital.

Nurses on night duty fear for their safety and congregate in one room, taking turns to check on patients using cellphone torches for light.

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No water for bathing

Patients at the facility told The Citizen that they relied on relatives to bring them drinking water to take their medication.

For meals, they are served bread and vegetables twice a day, they said.

“I have been at this hospital just a few years ago, it was not in such a terrible state. I arrived here five days ago, and it has been chaotic.

“We can’t use the toilets because there is no water, we cannot bath either. This is a very scary place at night, we are vulnerable,” said one patient who did not want to be named.

She added that she was worried about safety after psychiatric patients invaded her ward the previous night and started to nonchalantly smoke cigarettes.

“It is not safe here, nurses gather in a room at night because they know they could be attacked at anytime.

“There is no order, psychiatric patients just arrive out of nowhere and pose danger to us.”

Another patient in high care said he is not properly monitored because the oxygen machines and heart monitors are off as there is no power.

“The nurses are doing everything they can under the circumstances, where is the management that is being paid to run this hospital?

“I have heart problems, all the doctor can do is use common sense and determine how to best ensure I am kept alive because the machines are not working,” he said.

There is no power and taps are dry at Lenasia south hospital in Gauteng. Photo: Supplied
Medical equipment are not working at Lenasia South Hospital because there’s no power. Photo: Supplied.

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According to one of the staffers, nurses have been complaining that the lack of water and electricity hampers their work, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“This hospital has been this terrible for months now, the department of health is not doing anything to restore water and power.

“Nurses and doctors have been left to work in these conditions, no one seem to care about the patients. Nothing works at Lenasia south,” said the staffer who wanted to remain anonymous as she is not allowed to talk to the media.

Contacted for comment, the provincial department of health’s Khutso Rabothata said he was not aware of the problems plaguing the hospital, promising to investigate.

Public healthcare crisis

As government touts the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI), public healthcare is deteriorating, worsened by the exodus of skilled professionals.

Poor working environment, lack of proper medical equipment, inadequate security at health care centers and excessive overtime due to staff shortages has led to nurses and doctors dumping public health for greener pastures.

In its submission to Parliament’s portfolio committee on health, the SA Medical Association (SAMA) said it won’t support the NHI bill in its current form.

The association cautioned government against prematurely implementing the NHI, saying it posed a disruptive threat to the entire health care system.

According to SAMA, the Bill does not address various challenges such as a shortage of staff and the lack of good governance.

Meanwhile, Business groups such as Business Unity SA (BUSA) called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to test the constitutionality of the Bill before signing it into law.

Although Parliament passed the Bill last year, it is yet to be signed into law by the president.

Delivering his state of the nation address in the National Assembly two months ago, Ramaphosa jokingly said that he was looking for a pen to sign the bill into law.

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