A health crisis is looming at the United Bulawayo Hospitals UBH due to a critical shortage of water which has seen some patients being transferred to Mpilo Hospital.
Nurses who spoke to Radio Dialogue said they are failing to fully tend to some situations forcing the hospital to refer some surgical operations to Mpilo Hospital as they cannot perform certain medical procedures without adequate water supplies.
“Some patients who were supposed to have been operated on had these (procedures) cancelled because the doctors cannot conduct an operation when there is no water because the medical team is expected to wash their hands, their equipment and the surroundings have to be cleaned adequately,” a nurse speaking on condition of anonymity said.
“So what is being done now is that some patients with conditions that are in need of medical attention requiring large quantities of water are being transferred to Mpilo Hospital which means Mpilo Hospital is now taking in more then their intended capacity.”
The nurse said the health institution has since started asking the relatives of the patients to bring in their own water supplies. She said working in an environment without water is likely to put their health at risk.
“We cannot wash our hands which we are supposed to at all the times, before and after attending to patients because we are in direct contact with dirt so it is putting us and our patients at risk of infection,” she said.
Another female nurse speaking on condition of anonymity said water supplies for the maternity ward are being sourced from a borehole within the hospital premises.
UBH chief executive officer, Nonhlanhla Ndlovu confirmed that the health institution is faced with an acute water shortage saying there is little pressure for the water to pump into the hospital.
“Although the city council is not water shedding us because the surrounding areas are experiencing water shedding ,the pressure is too low at times to pump into the hospital,” Ndlovu said.
“The city council is aware because they have been communicating with the public works department.”
A member of the council’s health department and ward 6 councillor Jeniffer Bent said the local authority is prioritising hospitals in the provision of water supplies. She said problems associated with low pressure could be combination of dilapidated piping systems and power cuts.
Meanwhile homebased caregivers have revealed that caring for bed ridden patients is increasingly becoming a burden due to water problems. Senzeni Bhila who runs a home based caregiving organisation, Susceptible Iyanai Chinoda OVC Care Trust says council should make efforts to drill boreholes in the city’s 29 wards to ensure caregivers have access to water supplies.