The Gauteng Department of Health has strongly denied the DA’s claims that the Hillbrow Community Health Center in Johannesburg’s power has been cut due to outstanding debts.
The department says the power outage was caused by a damaged power cable in the facility.
“The power problems at the Hillbrow Community Health Center have nothing to do with payment issues. The facility has no unpaid bill with City Power,” confirmed Motalatale Modiba, spokesperson for the department.
According to Modiba, City Power was asked two weeks ago to help with the power problem, which affects part of the facility. “Upon further investigation, they determined that there was a damaged cable in the facility that was causing the power outage.”
Jack Bloom, the DA’s spokesperson on health in Gauteng, also said there was a problem with a cable, but according to him the main reason for the power cut was an outstanding power bill of R2 million.
Bloom visited the clinic on Tuesday after several complaints.
“The hospital corridors are dark and staff use their mobile phones for light. Doctors have to sew up patients’ wounds in dim light.
“The X-ray machines in the casualty department cannot be used, putting patients’ lives at risk. I saw one monitor for an accident patient that runs on battery power. There was another monitor, but it could not be used. Pap smears can only be done for the short periods when the generator is on.”
The generator can only provide power to the facility for a few hours. According to Modiba, the generator shuts down every now and then to cool down as a safety measure.
Modiba confirmed a contractor had been appointed to repair the damaged cable. He is expected to begin the repairs today.
“We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused to patients and staff. Services at the facility continue to be provided while the contractor repairs the damaged cable.”
Bloom expressed his shock at the power problem continuing for so long, saying it puts the treatment of patients and their lives at risk.
“The payment issue should have been resolved immediately and generator problems sorted out. This highlights the need for good financial management and efficient maintenance at health facilities,” he says.