Fixing hospital lifts now on track
THE provincial government has terminated the services of the contractors who were maintaining lifts at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo has said.
Mamabolo briefed the media yesterday after an unannounced visit to the hospital with Premier David Makhura and MEC Gwen Ramokgopa after challenges experienced with the lifts in recent weeks.
The hospital was hit with a massive lift fiasco in which only one of its 27 lifts was functioning. Procedures that require transportation from one floor to the other have been put on hold and critical equipment cannot be moved around.
Mamabolo said the department had over the years introduced a practice where third parties took over the maintenance of lifts instead of leaving this function to the manufacturers of the equipment.
He said this had led to the technical glitch at the hospital.
“As a result of contractors taking over from the manufacturers of the original equipment, the quality of service and the provision of the parts to make sure that the lifts are maintained to the highest level of standard and are compliant with the required standard, has taken a knock.
“And that is basically because of this arrangement that the department has had over the years,” Mamabolo said.
He said since the beginning of the month, Schindler and Koyo & Otis, the original manufacturers, had taken over operating the lifts.
“I can with specific reference to this facility mention that the lifts are now under the direct control and maintenance service by the original equipment manufacturers; three by Koyo & Otis and the rest belonging to Schendler,” he said.
At present, nine of its lifts are functional, a vast improvement to just one early this week.
The MEC said they had appointed a new resident engineer who would make sure that the lifts were run efficiently and effectively.
He said the department would be presented today with a plan and a timeline of when all the lifts hospital would be fixed. Makhura expressed his concern about the predicament. “We are here today to put pressure on the whole system, not just on the hospital but on the contractors as well, who need to understand that these lifts need to be up and running as this is a serious issue,” he said.
Referring to to the tragedy in which more than 100 mental health patients died last year in Gauteng owing to a lack of proper healthcare, Makhura said it was important to act promptly as he did not want the issue of Life Esidimeni repeating itself.
“I was in Brazil and I came back yesterday and my first day on duty today is here at Steve Biko. I spoke to the MEC to say I have seen when I was away that there were issues about the hospital, and as part of our unannounced visits let’s respond to the matter,” Makhura said.
He commended the hospital for its services and said he was happy with its work.
Ramokgopa also expressed her happiness with the services at Steve Biko, with the exception of patients having a long wait before being assisted.
While the hospital waits for all the lifts to be fixed, it is using golf carts, motor vehicles, shuttles and evacuation equipment to support patients and staff.
The acting head of the hospital, Mathabo Mathebula, said they were doing all in their power to make sure patients were assisted as they remained their first priority.
Premier David Makhura and MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa chat to patients during an unannounced visit to Steve Biko Academic Hospital yesterday.