Speech by the MEC for Health and Social Development, Ms Ntombi Mekgwe, at the opening of the accident and emergency unit at Pholosong Hospital, Tsakane
10 May 2011
Your Worship, the Executive Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni; Councillor Mondli Gungubele
Local councillors present
The Executive Director of South African Medical and Education Foundation, Ms Diane Pols
Members of the Pholosong Hospital Board
Our Partners and Sponsors
Chief Executive Officer and Management of Pholosong Hospital
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen
As we gather today to open this Accident and Emergency Unit, we are proud to say that indeed Pholosong Hospital is being revitalised and transformed.
I will therefore take this opportunity to commend South African (SA) Medical and Education Foundation for having spent R2.5 million to build this Accident and Emergency Unit. This is social compact in action! We value this partnership. The total cost for this project amounted to R3.5 million.
I also take this opportunity to thank His Excellency, The President of the republic for having graced this occasion. Mr President, we appreciate how busy you are, but you took trouble to be part of this milestone for a hospital in Tsakane.
Since 1997, a succession of ANC National Conferences took resolutions on revitalisation of hospitals, and government has always prioritised implementation of this resolution.
I make reference to the resolutions of the ANC National Conferences to remind everybody that government policy originates from the ruling party.
When we implement policies we must always be mindful of the fact that these are premised on the mandate of the ruling party.
Government takes its cue from the ANC that is why we say the ANC lives, and the ANC leads!
Pholosong Hospital is now a far cry from that hospital which was cynically referred to by some among us as “Nyollosong Hospital”!
Just to give an indication of the work that is being done at this hospital, allow me to cite the following figures:
- In 2010, there were 20 452 admissions
- In 2010, 4 926 live births were recorded
It is important that we use appropriate language when referring to sections or units of our hospitals.
Today we are opening an out-patient department, and accident and emergency department. We are not opening a casualty.
Casualty is only applicable in those countries that are gripped by war.
We do not have a war in our country!
This accident and emergency department is equipped with state of the art equipment. This equipment is more sophisticated than the one that is available at some private hospitals.
We hope that the new equipment will also contribute towards attraction and retention of health professionals and specialists. We have gone out of our way to avail the latest tools of trade to our health professionals.
In the accident and emergency unit, the privacy of patients was compromised.
We now have secluded examination rooms which include two fully locked rooms for gynaecological and paediatric patients equipped with examination and diagnostic tools.
We now also have a separate theatre room which fully equipped to perform appropriate operations.
As a level one hospital, Pholosong treats and admits a high number of trauma cases.
I am reliably informed that in 2010 alone, 118 399 trauma patients were seen at this hospital! This is a matter that the hospital on its own will not be able to address.
Most of trauma cases are related to people who sustain injuries due to vehicle accidents, gun shots, stabbings and general wanton violence.
Most of these incidents have a direct correlation to intoxication. We will need to work together with Departments such as Community Safety, Education and Social Development and Community Leaders to deal with this situation as it increases the burden on our meagre resources.
We will ensure that we engage all role players to give effect to a vigorous prevention strategy on trauma.
I am confident that the new department will improve waiting times.
This should be good news to our people as they will no longer resign themselves to spending the whole day at hospital when visiting this hospital.
Trauma patients will now be registered at the accident and emergency unit. They will no longer queue with the rest of patients while needing urgent medical attention.
I raise this matter because it is one of the sore points regarding service delivery.
New equipment coupled with high staff moral will go a long way towards ensuring that visits to our hospitals are indeed hospitable and bearable.
Pholosong Hospital continues to improve on delivery of quality health care. Since the new term of government the number of medical doctors has increased from 26 to 50.
The number of professional nurses has increased from 104 to 146. Before the 2009 elections this hospital had no ICU nurses, now there are 12 ICU nurses who are supported by a staff of 22!
The improvements that have been made are visible to patients who present themselves at this hospital. The hospital is now cleaner than before thanks to employment of dedicated cleaners.
I mention these improvements because they impact on how people think they will be managed clinically if they also observe for themselves that the waiting times have been reduced, and that there is an increase in the number of health professionals.
Patients no longer spend the whole day at the out-patient department.
I also plead with the surrounding community, to access health facilities appropriately.
Presenting illnesses that can be treated at clinics increases waiting times and elongates queues at hospitals. Minor ailments and chronic conditions are treated at clinics.
The nurses that work at these clinics are highly trained; they can diagnose and treat most conditions. Most of our clinics have medical doctors.
I also plead with local councillors and community leaders to continue educating members of the community to enter the health system appropriately.
It is more expensive to extract a tooth at this hospital, while it can be extracted at a clinic. Moreover, services at clinics are rendered free of charge.
I am aware of the fact that services at clinics have to inspire confidence before communities stop accessing the health system incorrectly.
It is therefore a challenge to district managers to ensure that services at clinics inspire confidence, and we will continue to monitor this very closely.
We have extended hours of service at some of our clinics. For example, Duduza and Tsakane clinics are now open on Saturdays, while Kwa-Thema and Nokuthela Ngwenya Community Health Centres operate for 24 hours.
I commend Pholosong Hospital for its efforts in raising funds to build this accident and emergency unit.
Your innovation in insisting that the sponsors actually build the unit themselves instead of donating money expedited the process, as we all know how long government procurement processes take. This should be a lesson to other hospitals.
In the same vein, I reiterate our gratitude to SA Medical and Education Foundation.
Your sponsorship has re-assured the people of Far East Rand that resources are not only ploughed in hospitals that are situated in bigger cities such as Johannesburg and Tshwane. We are one province, Re ea tshwana ka o fela.
We value this partnership, we will continue to work together to improve the health status of our people!
I thank you.
Issued by: Gauteng Health
10 May 2011
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