KZN hospital plunged into darkness following heavy rains

18 April 2019 - 13:21 By LWANDILE BHENGU
Power has been restored at Durban's Addington Hospital after a torrential downpour on Wednesday.
Power has been restored at Durban's Addington Hospital after a torrential downpour on Wednesday.
Image: iStock

Critical wards at Durban's Addington Hospital were plunged into darkness for five hours following a torrential downpour in the city on Wednesday.

The Durban beachfront hospital lost power to the ICU, neonatal ICU, theatre and certain hospital wards after storm water swept into the hospital’s main power supply in the basement, causing wires to burn and tripping electrical switches.

In a statement on Thursday, the Department of Health said the outage occurred as two adults and a 12-year-old boy were in intensive care, and three pregnant women, including one with a complication, were set to go into theatre for Caesarean sections.

The department said the hospital's generator did not automatically kick in because it was programmed to do so only during a full power outage. It could not be switched on manually due to the flooding and the potential danger from a mixture of water and electricity.

The MEC for Health in KZN, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, praised doctors and nurses who worked "tirelessly through the night managing the critically ill patients on life-support machines that were operating on backup power".

No casualties were reported and all three women gave birth to healthy children.  

“We would like to thank the management and staff of this hospital for springing into action when this situation unfolded. They did not panic, but rather showed great maturity and decisiveness in dealing with this emergency,” said Dhlomo.

The acting head of the health department, Dr Musa Gumede, said: “The water, which had run down the driveway to the basement of the hospital, has been pumped out. The power is back, but the electricians are still on site.”

Power was restored to the hospital at 1.30am on Thursday and normal operations have resumed. However, only the food and waste lifts are currently working. The four patient/visitors lifts are due to be repaired.