Custom-designed Psychiatric Ward
South Rand Hospital has fewer psychiatric patients than before but the two wards set aside for them need to be relocated to a custom-designed psychiatric ward on the ground floor.
This was the observation of a DA delegation that visited the hospital yesterday (27 February) after receiving complaints from patients. DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom, DA Joburg South Constituency Head Manny de Freitas MP and DA councillors Michael Crichton, Rashieda Landis and Faeeza Chame inspected various parts of the hospital and met with hospital CEO Dr Nobantu Maleka.
We were pleased to find that psychiatric patients were no longer mixed with other patients in ordinary wards and that the numbers were down dramatically because of the recent opening of the psychiatric ward at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto.
There were only three psychiatric patients in the 27-bed female psychiatric ward and 11 patients in the 34-bed male psychiatric ward on the fourth floor.
Psychiatric patients are seen for an observation period of 72 hours and then discharged or sent to a more specialist and long-term facility.
One Security Guard at the Psychiatric Ward
The two psychiatric wards are not ideal as they have been converted from ordinary wards. A request has been made for the refurbishment of a former crèche on the ground floor into a proper psychiatric ward where staff can interact with the patients and they can also recuperate in a secure garden.
Staff expressed concern that there was only one security guard at the psychiatric ward and that the glass windows could be shattered and shards used as a weapon or to commit suicide. There are burglar bars to prevent a patient jumping to their death, as happened in May last year.
Long waiting periods are a continuing problem at this hospital.
Official figures for July to September last year show that patients wait between two-and-a-half hours to three hours at both the Outpatients department and at Casualty, which is unacceptable.
Moratorium on Hiring more Admin Staff
On a positive note, however, the hospital is looking very clean and pharmacy waiting times have decreased.
Hospital CEO Dr Nobantu Maleka said there was a moratorium on hiring more administrative staff which has led to long waiting times; there was also a shortage of 16 nurses.
The hospital’s staff compliment needs to be increased to cope with the large increase in patient numbers.
Maleka said that there are plans to renovate the Outpatient ward towards the end of the year.
The DA will monitor the promised improvements and push for more staff and for electronic files to replace the paper files that often get lost and add to patients’ frustration and waiting time.
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222