Humansdorp Field Hospital still not operational as Covid crisis deepens

Issued by Jane Cowley, MPL
Shadow MEC for Health

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic currently ripping through the communities of Kouga Local Municipality, the newly built Covid-19 facility at the Humansdorp Hospital remains closed.

Serious questions need to be asked about how this facility could possibly have cost R3,506 million of taxpayers money when the unit is not even brick and mortar, but pre-fabricated panels. In a capable state, this substandard construction would not pass muster as a standard ward, let alone a Covid-19 ward.

This became abundantly apparent during an oversight inspection I conducted of the facility today, accompanied by DA Cllr and Kouga Speaker Hattingh Bornman.

The poor workmanship of the facility clearly indicates that there were no quality control measures in place, and it is very unlikely that any consultation was done with medical professionals, as the building does not meet the minimum requirements needed to provide adequate care to patients.

Whoever signed off on the construction, need to be held to account, and I will be submitting parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of this.

During my oversight inspection today, I saw panels peeling from the wall, despite the units never even being used. Bathroom facilities provided, specifically the showers, do not drain and flood the ward when a tap is opened.

Worse is that despite the facility being completed in June, there are still no beds in the four wards that have been created.

Other serious concerns include there being no piped oxygen to the facility, and no suction apparatus which is a necessity for covid-19 patients, no donning and doffing area for staff, no staff ablution facilities, no workspace for staff and no phone lines.

So for the past five months, with the full knowledge that a second wave of the pandemic was inevitable, the Department of Health has done nothing to ensure that this facility becomes operational in order to offer better care for Covid-19 patients.

Patients from the Kouga municipality are unable to make use of the Covid -19 facilities in the Nelson Mandela Bay district, as they are filled to capacity. It is therefore critical that facilities within their own municipality, which have been revamped for Covid-19 cases, become operational immediately.

I will write to the MEC for Health, Hon Sindiswa Gomba, to urge her to:

  • Ensure that the facility is suitably equipped and functional for both patients and staff;
  • Ensure that there are sufficient suitably qualified professional healthcare workers to guarantee the effective functioning of the unit;
  • Ensure that all other renovated Covid-19 facilities in the Sara Baartman district are made functional as a matter of urgency.

If these renovated facilities are not serving their purpose as Covid-19 units, then the millions spent on upgrades in the district could be deemed fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

This, in a department which is factually bankrupt, speaks of weak leadership and exceptionally poor planning. The citizens of Kouga deserve better.

I will continue to fight for decent health facilities for all the people of this province.