Mosquitoes halt Durban hospital surgery


South Africa | 16 May 2017, 12:24pm

DURBAN – A Bluff woman claimed that doctors would not conduct a medical procedure on her 81-year-old mother due to a mosquito infestation in the theatre rooms caused by malfunctioning air conditioners at King Edward VIII Hospital.
For the past two weeks, doctors were unable to carry out any surgeries due to the problem that has resurfaced repeatedly in the past few years.

Elizabeth Weernich was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago (April 28), after she fell at home and broke her hip. Doctors allegedly told her she could not have immediate surgery due to the holidays.

King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban

Picture: Steven Naidoo/Independent Media

Last Tuesday they said the operation could not be done because the air conditioner in the operating theatre was not functioning, said her daughter Poppy Odenvaal.

Weernich has been put on the standby list and also had to have a cold bath because there was no hot water available in the hospital this past weekend.

“We are frustrated. She should have been recovering from her operation by now, not suffering in pain and anxiety. Could they not have transferred her to another hospital?Where does our tax money go to?” Odenvaal said.


The infrastructure at the hospital is 80 years old and is severely crumbling, said Imran Keeka, the DA spokesperson on health.

One of the biggest infrastructure issues, Keeka said, is the water table and drainage that is currently being addressed.

“The air conditioners in the theatres and other areas work off water chillers, which is the problem. The department has committed to replacing these with air-cooled chillers as has been done in at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital.

“The water-cooled chillers depend on the metro’s water supply to the hospital which is erratic at night so the air conditioners trip. For now, the department has fixed the air conditioners,” Keeka said.

Sam Mkhwanazi, the KZN department of Health spokesperson, said the allegations will be investigated.

Adding to the hospital’s woes the department’s funding is strained and there is no telling when this will be addressed. Keeka said, unfortunately, people will be left waiting and suffering while the department’s “poor” political management is sorted out.

In February 2010, more than 30 patients, many of them in the orthopaedic ward, had to wait for surgery after six of King Edwards’ operating theatres were closed for two weeks.

It was attributed to the air conditioning system and not having the proper airflow in the theatre.

In January 2013, theatres and wards at Addington Hospital were shut after air conditioning units stopped working, forcing a mass transfer of several hundred patients to other hospitals.

King Edward VIII hospital is the second largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, providing regional and tertiary services to the whole of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

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