10 January 2013

Namibia: Katutura Theatre Without Toilet, Aircon

THE theatre at the Katutura State Hospital has been without a toilet since before Christmas last year.

Moreover, the theatre's air-conditioning facility only works partially.

One nursing sister, who works in the theatre, described the situation as "like working in hell". Dr Georg Judmann, the medical superintendent at the hospital, yesterday admitted that the partially functioning air-conditioner poses a health risk for both patients and staff.

The nurse fumed, saying that since the toilets were removed in December, men and women have had to resort to a toilet in the acute care unit as there is nowhere where they can relieve themselves in the theatre. "It is extremely uncomfortable and inconvenient for us - doctors, nurses and cleaning staff. It cannot work like this."

According to her, the heat in the theatre has become unbearable, because the air-conditioning facility has not been working properly. "If you enter the theatre, the heat slaps you in the face. Our sweat drips on the patients. It feels as if we are working in hell."

She said this has been the case "for a long time". "We are sick and tired," she exclaimed.

The nurse said that the telephone lines in the theatre have also not been working since the toilets were removed. This means they cannot make contact with the wards, the Blood Transfusion Services or casualty, she said. "So a patient could be brought for an operation while we are not ready and prepared. But to us, the toilets and the air-conditioner are the worst."

Upon enquiry, Judmann yesterday said the current renovations at the hospital are to blame for the state of affairs. "Regarding the air-conditioner, it has been a longstanding issue over years for the entire hospital. It is currently being addressed during phase 8 of the renovation. Half of the air-conditioning works and the other half doesn't work."

Asked how operations are affected by this, he said: "You can operate, [but] the conditions are difficult - everybody knows it. It causes a health risk for the staff and the patients."

He said the toilets in the theatre were removed before Christmas also as a result of the renovations. "They are going to be replaced during these days. Now now."

Judmann said the entire sewerage system of the theatre is being replaced during the current renovation phase.

Because of the impact of the renovations on operations, they decided to decrease the number of operations, he said. "All the regions were informed about this."

He denied that the telephone lines were out of order. "That is not correct. The telephones work."

When The Namibian phoned the theatre, it was established that only one line works. Four telephone lines of the five are out of order, a nurse said.

The Katutura State Hospital regularly comes under fire for various problems, including a regular interruption of water.

Last year in May, the hospital made headlines after Juliana Kleopas (41) and her unborn baby died in the hospital's maternity ward after she had been admitted for a scheduled Caesarian section.

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