“We can almost guarantee that the elevator will break again and we would like to have a squad of able-bodied volunteers ready next time to avoid unnecessary suffering.”
Cameron and haematology department head Dr Neil Littleton were spotted last week carrying bags of linen up and down the stairs. Paediatric patients who needed to see doctors on the third floor were also seen struggling up the stairs.
Patients who needed chemotherapy at the clinic on the seventh floor were given the choice to either reschedule their treatment or find a way to make it up the stairs.
Linen, rubbish and medical waste were not removed from the wards, but Madonsela said those responsible for this were not in the wrong as it was “not the job of the hospital workers” to walk up and down the stairs if the lifts were broken.
With regard to the disciplinary steps taken against the nurses, Madonsela said both the hospital and the health department had a policy on media-related issues and all employees were expected to adhere to it.
“If there is anyone who has not adhered to the policy, the necessary consequence management will be implemented,” Madonsela said.
It is not clear how the nurses receiving public volunteers was a “media issue”.
Madonsela said the process to fix the lifts had now been streamlined, with a new policy allowing for facilities to contract lift companies and not have to work through Bhisho. Last year, the same lift was broken for more than a week due to a standoff over payment between the department and the lift company.
“The lift that has been giving problems is six years old and has been serviced regularly by the service provider,” Madonsela said.
“The normal lifespan for a well-maintained lift is an average of 20 years.”
While there are two lifts that are supposed to service M-Block, one has been condemned as it is already 40 years old.
The other lift broke down on April 9 and it took the service provider two days to identify what was wrong.
After that, contractors had to wait a further two days for parts to be flown from Johannesburg and Durban.
The parts arrived on April 12 but the lift was only back in operation by Tuesday last week.
Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said at the time that contingency plans existed to move patients to ground floor wards, but there are none in M-Block.
The replacement of other lifts at Provincial Hospital has been provided for in the 2018-19 financial year’s business plan.
Kupelo said the hospital would get two new lifts – one in M-Block and another in P-Block on the other side of the hospital.