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Residents from Elim and surrounding areas, alongside members of the Elim Shirley Development and Service Forum, took the initiative to help clean Elim Hospital. Photo: Thembi Siaga.

Elim residents get together and start to clean up 'dirty' Elim Hospital

 

A group of roughly 40 residents from Elim and the surrounding area volunteered to clean Elim Hospital on Thursday, 25 April. They stated that they saw the need to clean the hospital because issues such as snakes and thugs could instil fear in the lives of staff, patients, and visitors.

Residents invested their own time and efforts and brought their own work equipment, such as slashers, spades, and brush cutters. They expressed concern that the bushes inside the hospital’s grounds had been growing for so long without anyone taking care of them.

Bernard Nchuma (67) said they had joined forces with members of the Elim Shirley Development and Service Forum to clean the hospital. “The hospital was too dirty, especially the area at patients' wards, where the doctors reside, and its surroundings. We couldn’t sit back and allow the bushes to continue growing in the hospital. This is an old hospital with a very rich history, and to see it so neglected is what worries us the most,” he said.

Residents hope that the Limpopo Department of Health (LDOH) can upgrade the hospital. A resident who spoke to Limpopo Mirror said that some of the buildings were full of cracks and that some blocks needed to be demolished as they were too old. “We believe the hospital needs urgent maintenance. We hope the government can inspect the hospital because another burning issue is the lack of ambulances at the hospital,” the source said.

Some patients at the hospital complained of dirty wards, overcrowding, and premature discharge because of the lack of space or beds, possibly resulting in unnecessary deaths. Visitors also complain of delays in getting files, coupled with a slow process.

Mr Fumani Mageza, spokesperson of the forum, mentioned they had written and talked with the Elim Hospital CEO, the CLO, and the tribal council several times about the said issue, but with no luck. “Besides the issue of water shortage, other critical issues include the shortage of doctors, nursing staff, and ward cleaners, as well as general workers,” he said.

LDOH spokesperson Neil Shikwambana stated that the wards were cleaned according to requirements, but he acknowledged that the building itself is old and somewhat dilapidated. Shikwambana said that a reasonable turnaround time for patient records was necessary.

“We are not aware of any complaint where a patient has allegedly died because they were discharged prematurely. So, we will treat this as speculation for now. Also, patients are not supposed to stay in the hospital forever but should be discharged after treatment, as the beds must be available for all community members in need,” said Shikwambana.

 

 

Date:04 May 2024

By: Thembi Siaga

Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.

Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.

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