Electricity outages at hospital cause concern

Mhlaba Memela

Some non-critical services at Durban's King Edward VIII Hospital have been temporarily suspended over the last three days because of major power disruptions.

The power cuts have also affected nearby residential areas such as Umbilo.

Friends and relatives of patients at the hospital have expressed concern because the hospital admits critical patients from throughout the province.

Benzani Ngcobo, who visited her sister at the hospital on Tuesday, said: "My sister told me that they had not had electricity for several days and she was scared because she was on drips.

"Hospitals are supposed to be places where people's lives are saved, but it seems this one will turn into a hospital of death.

" The municipality should solve the problem as soon as possible."

Themba Manci, a patient at the hospital, said they had gone for three days without electricity.

"We were scared when the hospital went dark on Tuesday for the first time. However, the nurses assured us it was a minor problem," he said.

Leon Mbangwa, a spokesman for KwaZulu-Natal department of health agreed the cuts had affected the hospital, but said the problem was being investigated.

"The power shortages are receiving attention from eThekwini municipality," he said.

"We have been experiencing outages since Monday from 10 am. During this period, the hospital was able to source power from standby generators."

Mbangwa said if the problem persisted, emergency cases would be diverted to other hospitals.

Jay Kalichuran, spokesman for the eThekwini municipality electricity services, said: "We have worked on the problem and the supply has been restored. There was no equipment failure and the network will work normally."

However, Kalichuran said the situation at the hospital was being monitored.