Inside Tembisa Hospital‚ where patients sleep on the floor

16 May 2018 - 09:28 By Penwell Dlamini
Tembisa Hospital. File photo.
Tembisa Hospital. File photo.
Image: Tembisa Hospital/Facebook

It is just after 12pm at the Tembisa provincial tertiary hospital. At the gate are three security guards verifying the status of those seeing to get inside. A short queue of about eight people stands waiting to be checked by the guards.

It is after midday but people are still flocking to this health facility as it is conveniently positioned in the middle of the Ekurhuleni township.

“People like this hospital because they can simply walk in. We don’t turn people away just because they don’t have referrals‚” one of the hospital officials explained.

The reception and administration section are also packed with patients. But one of the officials speaks the truth about the situation.

“Today things are normal. I wish you could have visited us at the end of the month when it is a weekend‚ you would see how bad things can get here‚” another official said.

TimesLIVE joined a group of journalists who accompanied the provincial management of the SA Human Rights Commission which visited the hospital on Tuesday.

The visit was prompted by media reports that patients are sleeping on the floor and there is not enough staff and medicine for patients.

This was proven true. Hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi identified staff shortages and spatial limitations as the two biggest challenges facing the hospital. At some stage‚ he said‚ the hospital gave the provincial department as many as 200 posts that it needed to meet its demands.

Tembisa hospital was opened in 1972 at the time when the population of the township was still very small‚ Mogaladi explained. Today it services among others‚ people from Tembisa‚ Ivory Park‚ Ebony Park even as far as Diepsloot.

Mogaladi said the population being served by the hospital had grown substantially. This was proven‚ Mogaladi added‚ by the fact that Tembisa hospital was second only to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto in the number of babies delivered in each year.

As more journalists joined the delegation‚ staff from the commission began interviewing patients and making observation of what was happening at the hospital.

Not far from the administration block was the casualty ward. This is where the overcrowding problem could vividly be seen.

Every bed was occupied and there were also patients waiting on benches to be treated. Mogaladi explained how the hospital management wanted to expand the space for this section of the hospital as it was under severe pressure.

People like this hospital because they can simply walk in. We don’t turn people away just because they don’t have referrals

TimesLIVE observed patients that were tied with some belt onto their beds. One such patient was a young man in his early twenties who was sleeping during the beginning of the visit at casualty ward.

“Those are psychiatric patients. We have to keep them here because there is no other place where they can be treated when they arrive‚” one official explained.

Doctors and nurses continued to do their work despite the limited space they had. As the delegation which included journalists‚ hospital management and the commission left‚ the young man who had been sleeping woke up.

He realised that he was tied to the bed. Showing little strength in his body‚ he tried to wake up and began to speak to himself continuously.

Nobody paid attention to him and the delegation left the casualty ward. Those witnessing this for the first time were stunned.