PRETORIA – As power utility Eskom announced the intensification of Stage 4 load shedding from midday today until Friday at 17h00, and added by Stage 2 until Saturday, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) would once again plead with management of all healthcare facilities to ensure that back-up generators are well-serviced and fully operational as non-maintenance of these is a great inconvenience to nurses in hospitals and clinics during load shedding.
DENOSA calls on the Department of Health to ensure that fully generator-backed-up and appropriately sized uninterrupted power supply (UPS) electrical system is installed as an investment in all healthcare facilities for more essential loads such as ICU and threatre to avoid deadly consequences of power failure and failure of back-up generators to kick-in. The UPS stores reserve power in a battery to allow a facility to function normally on an emergency basis for an acceptable period depending on the number of batteries.
Those facilities which neglect the maintenance of their standby generators are reminded that six babies died at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane due to power outage and failure of the back-up generator to kick in, in 2004 and 2006 respectively.
The continued failure to maintain generators is extremely concerning a tendency because nurses are often to blame when patients receive poor quality service as a result of load shedding. Furthermore, DENOSA has to represent nurses in cases of negligence where the cause was both load shedding and failure of back-up generators to kick in in times of load shedding, forcing nurses to use their cellphones in most cases in order for them to do their work.
DENOSA has been receiving complaints from its members, especially those working in Community Healthcare Centres (CHCs) and healthcare centres in rural settings. It would appear that negligence to maintain back-up generators is the main cause of this frustration, as well as non-presence of fuel. In some facilities, deliveries of babies have to be done in darkness in times of load-shedding as back-up generators do not cover all delivery rooms in the entire maternity unit.
While nurses must be applauded for innovating and improvising under the circumstances and in darkness, DENOSA is concerned that few years from now many of those nurses who are applauded may be charged by the regulatory body if things didn’t go accordingly. Load shedding also impacts negatively on the administration of medication to patients in other wards that may not be covered by back-up generators.
In the same spirit, DENOSA would like to applaud facilities that constantly test and check their standby generators. Some facilities do so religiously every week, and they have not had any major disruptions to their services.
Critically, DENOSA calls on all municipalities to move hospitals and clinics to the ‘Essential Consumer’ category of their grid in their power distribution design so that healthcare facilities, which provide essential services, are exempt from load shedding. This is to ensure that critical areas in a facility, like ICU and theatre, are placed under ‘critical loads’ electricity network to ensure they remain fully functional with power. This is a critical area that municipalities are overlooking and thus failing the nation on. This is much easier to implement at least with the newly-built facilities in the age of load shedding.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
For more information, contact:
Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary
Mobile: 082 328 9671
Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President
Mobile: 082 328 9635
For further enquires, contact Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Communications Manager
Mobile: 063 698 3826
WhatsApp number: 072 584 4175