Scores of patients stranded as theatres undergo renovation

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya
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SCORES of patients in need of minor surgeries in the southern region have been left stranded as theatres in the two referral hospitals in Bulawayo have not been operational.

The southern region covers Bulawayo, Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South provinces.

The chief executive officer of the United Bulawayo Hospitals, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu, yesterday said the institution has only been doing emergency surgery and caesarean operations since April because they are renovating.

She said they have been sending patients to Mpilo Central Hospital for serious surgery.

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, the clinical director at Mpilo Central Hospital, on the other hand, said they are only attending to emergency cases as some of the theatres last worked six years ago.

Patients have had to seek services from private health institutions whose prices are very high for most members of the public.

Mrs Ndlovu said the theatres are undergoing renovations which are likely to end by the end of September this year.

“Our theatre air conditioning systems were dilapidated and had become so inefficient we decided to repair them. People should note that this kind of air conditioning is quite complex as it should ensure that those who enter theatre rooms do not get infections hence we need time to complete the repairs,” she said.

Mrs Ndlovu said members of the public who needed theatre services were being referred to Mpilo Central Hospital, UBH’s sister hospital.

“Mpilo is as good as UBH and we advice members of the public to go there since it is also a Government-run institution. We have not referred anyone to private hospitals as we know that Mpilo can offer the services while we work on repairing our air conditioners,” she said.

Dr Ngwenya, however, said theatres at the institution were also down as they have no anaesthetic machines.

“Our A theatres have been down for about six years and it is a struggle as we have no anaesthetic machines. We have a serious challenge when it comes to theatres as the functional B ones are reserved for major and emergency surgeries,” he said.

Dr Ngwenya said the hospital had a back log of people who are in need of surgeries which the hospital cannot offer at the moment.

One affected resident Mr Noel Magutshwa said he went to UBH last week and was told that theatres had been down for the past six months.

“I suffered a dislocated shoulder and doctors had recommended that I go for an operation. I was surprised when officials at UBH said theatres were down and I am stranded because I cannot afford to pay $5 000 for the same procedure at Mater Dei Hospital,” he said.

Mr Magutshwa added that they put a plaster on his arm and advised him to come back after six weeks for consultation.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Retired Major General Dr Gerald Gwinji, could not be reached for comment. —