Themba Hospital ran out of water again on Friday. By Monday morning, while the department of health assured the Lowvelder the supply had been restored, patients’ surgeries were still being postponed as a result of the shortage.
During the newspaper’s visit yesterday, hospital staff and patients could be seen taking water in buckets up an elevator, supplying the upper rooms in the building.
Jacqui Roets, who is awaiting an operation, told the Lowvelder that she had been on the waiting list for surgery since last Wednesday.
Her left leg was amputated in 2016. Ever since, she has had a recurring infection in the stump, and has needed another operation to fix the stump and allow her leg to heal so she can start rehabilitation.
“I went to the hospital on Tuesday so that they could prepare me for theatre. Upon my arrival there was water, but on Friday there was none. Things have not been easy for us because we need water for flushing the toilet.
“It makes the area smell if the waste doesn’t go through the pipes. I was very lucky because the woman who was sleeping next to me asked her husband to bring water, and he brought a 25 litre so that we can use the toilet.
“On my first day I also had to sleep on the floor, as they did not have enough beds and linen. My family provided linen for me.
“Other people are not that fortunate to have relatives bringing them water or the things they need. What happens to them while they wait?” she asked.
Roets said over the weekend, the patients were unable to bathe and wash their hands and the rooms were not cleaned.
She said the doctors were kind to her, and they kept updating her about the challenges they were facing.
“One of the doctors came to me and explained that even if they wanted to perform the procedure on my leg they cannot, due to lack of water and steam in the theatre room. I can see that that they want to help, but there’s nothing they can do.”
She was told the water that was available was only for emergency procedures.
She went home on Friday and returned on Sunday morning. On her arrival, the situation was still the same. On Monday morning the doctor gave Roets yet another disappointing update, informing her that she would have to wait again.
“As a hospital they should have a plan for when things like this happen, then they will not put the lives of the public at risk. Water is a basic need.”
On Monday she was once again informed that she would have to wait until Wednesday.
“I am planning to ask them again for a home pass so that I can be with family while I wait.”
The department of health confirmed the water shortage. Spokesman Dumisani Malamule said City of Mbombela Local Municipality (CMLM) has been supplying the hospital with a water tanker. He added that supplying water was the responsibility of the municipality.
“The department has resorted that as part of its contingency plans, laundry will be washed at other hospitals. On monday water has been restored and all laundry services are functional.
“No operations postponed over the weekend because general operations are not scheduled during weekends, only emergency operations,” he added.
CMLM spokesman Joseph Ngala did not respond to the newspaper’s questions at the time of going to press.