Extent of poor security at Pelonomi hospital revealed as student doctors return

11 June 2019 - 07:25 By TIMESLIVE
Medical staff at Bloemfontein's Pelonomi hospital are being assured of improved security following two attacks last week.
Medical staff at Bloemfontein's Pelonomi hospital are being assured of improved security following two attacks last week.
Image: Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital via Facebook

The University of Free State has resumed training of undergraduate students in the School of Clinical Medicine at Pelonomi hospital in Bloemfontein, after an intervention to improve security.

The decision to suspend the training of undergraduate students at the hospital came after the attempted rape of a medical intern last week, as well as the robbery of a medical officer in the parking area of the hospital over the weekend.

On Monday, discussions involving the university management, the head of the Department of Health in the province, the executive committee of the Pelonomi hospital, and Saps took place regarding the security situation at the hospital.

The health department provided the university with a security project plan comprising immediate and medium-term interventions, and a commitment to execute the plan as a matter of urgency, UFS said in a statement.

Interventions in the security project plan include:

  • the installation of high-mast lights in the precinct of the hospital,
  • reparation of the perimeter fence,
  • security locks, and
  • limiting access to the hospital and the hospital grounds between 8pm and 6am.

A "venue operation centre" made up of Saps officers, institutional security management, and the community policing forum will also be established at the hospital.

“We are satisfied with the security plan and the overall interventions committed to by the department of health and will monitor the implementation of these interventions,” said UFS vice-chancellor professor Francis Petersen.

Prof Petersen also met with undergraduate students in the schools of clinical medicine, nursing, and allied health professions on Monday to discuss the situation at the hospital.

"Trauma counselling is provided to undergraduate students and staff and those in need of counselling at the Pelonomi hospital," said the university.

In addition to the security measures at the hospital, the department will extend its bus service between medical facilities in Bloemfontein to students in need of transport of the school of clinical medicine. This service will later be extended to undergraduate students in the schools of nursing and allied health professions.

“We will also look into further transport solutions for the longer term for our students,” said Petersen.

Undergraduate students from the three medical schools are trained at government facilities including the Pelonomi hospital, Universitas hospital, National hospital, the Mangaung university community partnership programme and the Free State psychiatric complex.