Frere nurses home shut down after investigations
By Khuthala Nandipha
The Cecilia Makiwane Mental hospital Unit and the Frere hospital Nurses were declared inadequate for human habitation during an unannounced visit by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to investigate claims that both units are dilapidated and are unable to render services to the public.
Loyiso Mgengo, Provincial Director of the PSC recommended that the Department of Health must close down the Frere Hospital’s Nerina House Nurses’ Home with immediate effect. It was found that the hostel is inhabitable and is a physical and health hazard to student nurses.
Heaps of uncollected waste piled alongside the entrance into the hospital, uncollected since January 2019.
There was a pungent smell in the first and second floors of the hostel accompanied by buzzing flies and maggots.
The infrastructure of the building is dire and the building has not been maintained for a long time. Doors are vandalised and the roof is dilapidated.
According to Mgengo, alternative accommodation for students must be sought and a plan of action to relocate must be effected within 30 days.
The ECDoH will set aside emergency funds to cater for the refurbishment of Nerina House Nurses’ Home’s deteriorating infrastructure. The Department of Public Works will be brought in to renovate the building.
“The ECDoH should develop an aggressive approach in improving the safety of students by means of employing security guards on the premises to prevent unauthorised personnel from entering the building. Procedures on access control should be strengthened to deter criminal elements from committing further burglaries on the premises,” said Mgengo.
During the same visit, the PSC confirmed that the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital’s Mental Health Unit is also in disrepair, with broken windows, abandoned medical equipment, and exposed electrical wiring which posed a danger to the patients and staff.
It has also not had a psychiatrist since December 2018 and security is virtually non-existent, which leaves both staff and patients at risk. There is also a dire shortage of staff and that patients did not have recreational facilities.
“The Unit has not been maintained for years. The secluded areas are not environmentally friendly and are designed like prison cells and such structures are not good places for healing and rehabilitation. “Most concerning is the absence of a full-time Psychiatrist,” said Mgengo.
“The PSC has submitted the Reports to the ECDoH and some of the recommendations are being implemented,” said Sizwe Kupelo, spokesperson for the Department of Health in the province.