Power Outage Cripples Thorngrove Hospital

An electricity fault at Thorngrove Infectious Disease Hospital in Bulawayo has crippled health services, hindering patient care, as some parts of the Covid-19 isolation centre had to run without power, CITE established. The local authority-run health facility is one of the designated Covid-19 centres in the Matabeleland region.

Sources informed CITE that it was “exhausting” to operate without power and added that although the isolation institution had small generators and solar power, these could not boost the whole hospital.

“No electricity, sometimes means the hospital has to be very alert to maintain life-saving procedures, as health workers have to be sure, services are on,” sources claimed, who also alleged the hospital was facing a shortage of oxygen supply.

In an interview with CITE, Director of the City’s Health Services Department, Dr Edwin Sibanda confirmed there was an electricity blackout but attributed it to ‘probable’ cable theft.

“The Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) is working on the matter to make sure that electricity will be restored soon,” he said. “The cause of the lack of electrical power is due to a probable cable theft issue and the ZESA guys are already working on it. It is not council fault that there is no electricity there.”

Dr Sibanda added council officials met with Bulawayo’s provincial Covid-19 task force to discuss the matter. “We had a meeting with the Covid-19 co-ordination taskforce team and the issue of a blackout at the hospital was reported,” he said.

“As for the allegations that there is no oxygen supply, that is not true. The only challenge that is there right now is that of electricity and it is already being attended to.”

The city health director highlighted Thorngrove did have a “few small generators around” but these did not “cover the whole hospital and all functions.”

“We also have some solar cover but they are not connected to every part and port, so some functions will remain lit and working, the others will not. We have solar, which is not connected to the whole hospital so there are other functions which would not be on when the electricity goes,” Dr Sibanda said.

Dr Sibanda noted that “We don’t really need a generator for everything, the generator must cover what the solar cannot cover because the solar will cover certain utilities.”

“But what we know and know for sure is generator can back up some laboratory machines. For outside lighting, solar will be okay so we want to differentiate that when there is an electricity challenge. That’s the way forward so that when the electricity goes we have a backup but lighting is not an issue.”

Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology

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