In the midst of rolling blackouts throughout South Africa Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Coronationville, Johannesburg, says it is in talks with City Power and power utility Eskom to have its own load shedding schedule and be exempted from that of its surrounding area.
This was told to DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Friday by the hospital's clinical manager and acting CEO, Dr Edward Hank.
Maimane and DA member of the Gauteng legislature Jack Bloom were conducting an unannounced visit at the hospital on Friday following reports they had received that generators at the hospital were failing during power cuts.
"I think there is a scheduling problem, because this hospital is not immune. If municipal power in the area goes off, then this hospital is also affected," Hank said.
The neonatal facility operates with two diesel generators and a coal boiler, he added.
Hank said there were times when the generators fail to kick-in immediately when the power is cut.
He said it would sometimes take up to 20 minutes for them to kick-in and that they sometimes failed to because of the failure of a switch that was meant to allow them to kick-in immediately when the power went off.
"On Sunday night, when the generator did not kick in, the hospital was forced to speak to the municipality and requested for power to be installed," he said.
The hospital management also explained to Maimane and Bloom that while most of the machines in the hospital had standby batteries that were able to last for almost 30 minutes after blackouts, it was a problem when the generators failed to kick-in as the standby batteries would also eventually die out.
"Theatres operate on what we call elective and emergencies. Now there is normally no elective surgery at night and mainly emergencies, so you can imagine if that particular incident (generator fails to kick-in) occurs at night, then it is a complete disaster. You have serious compromisation of healthcare," he said.
Hank said the "ons and offs" were also affecting the equipment negatively leading to damages.
He added that load shedding was a complete disaster for healthcare or patient care management in all its facets and categories, but the hospital was doing its best to ensure that it does not suffer during the process, posing danger to its patients.
Eskom implemented stage 2 load shedding from 09:00 to 23:00 on Friday.