Electricity woes hit clinics

Patient dies as oxygen unable to be administered due to lack of power


Three clinics in Buffalo City Metro (BCM) have been so badly affected by izinyoka (illegal electricity connections) that a patient recently died when the clinic could not administer oxygen with the powerless oxygen machine.
Power supply is also on and off at Fort Grey Clinic, near East London Airport and Gompo C Clinic in Duncan Village. Chris Hani Clinic in Nompumelelo township in Beacon Bay has had no electricity for three years.
The clinic committee organiser at Nompumelelo, Solomzi Ntenteni, said a middle-aged man who came with short breath died at the taxi rank, a few minutes after the clinic referred him to another health facility.
He said the incident happened in June.
“I was at the clinic when the patient came in. He could not breathe and we could not help him.
“We have one oxygen machine which uses electricity. We have no choice but to refer patients who need oxygen to other health facilities,” said Ntenteni.
According to Ntenteni, the patient died at the taxi rank, a couple of metres from the clinic.
The Daily Dispatch visited the clinic on Tuesday. Inside it was dark. Patients and staff were sweating as the East London temperature reached 36°C on the day.
Electric appliances such as fans, a washing machine and a kettle are collecting dust, and the air conditioner fixed on the wall is useless.
The electricity pole that is meant to supply electricity to the facility is decorated with illegal wires that disappear into the nearby informal settlement.
Apart from being unable to administer oxygen, Ntenteni said the functionality of the clinic in other areas had also been crippled.
The pharmacist uses a rechargeable light to light up the 2x5m² window-less dispensary room.
If the power in the rechargeable light dies, she is forced to use a cellphone torch.
Ntenteni said the nurse in charge took the work phone and laptop home with him to recharge using his own electricity.
“The nurse in charge cannot even call in sick because he has work equipment with him. If he can’t make it to work, we have to collect it from his home.”
Until recently, the clinic had no fridge and could not keep vaccines on the premises, and had to order from the East London clinic to use on the day.
They now have a gas fridge.
Provincial health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said the department was holding discussions with BCM on finding a lasting solution to this challenge...

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