hospital runs out of oxygen

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

An interruption in the oxygen supply at Umlazi's Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital has forced the authorities to divert critically ill patients to nearby hospitals.

But officials said no one has died as a result of the hospital encountering problems with its oxygen supply at midnight on Tuesday.

The lack of oxygen affected the high care, casualty, intensive care, neonatal and nursery wards and operating theatres .

Provincial health spokesman Sebe Zwane said the problem started at about midnight when the oxygen supply failed.

A team of experts from the provincial medical technology unit and Afrox (the oxygen supplier) were dispatched to the hospital immediately to address the situation.

"We made emergency arrangements to ensure the safety of our patients," Zwane said.

"We have also enlisted the help of all institutions around the eThekwini district to help divert high-risk patients who require oxygen to other hospitals."

Zwane said the team of experts had found that the problem might lie with the oxygen distribution system.

"We have since shut down the main supply of oxygen to the hospital to correct the problem," she said.

Zwane said the situation was not life-threatening since "everything is under control and will be corrected in due course".

"We have systems in place to deal with the whole situation," Zwane said.

"At present we have only three patients that have been transferred - one to King Edward Hospital and two to a private hospital," she said.

Zwane said the three were the only patients in a critical condition in the intensive care unit when the problem started.

She urged the public to use other hospitals for all emergency cases until further notice.

The operating ward in the hospital is functioning normally apart from for a few affected sections.