The department’s spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, says these pictures, while well-intended, do not tell a true and full story. The Department’s three page long statement on the matter not only provides commentary on steps being taken to remedy the situation, but further tells the story of an Orthopaedic wing that has over the last few years been battling backlogs, in part due to the lack of anaesthetists at surrounding hospitals in the province, but also due to a lack of available theatres to meet the demands at Pelonomi. Mvambi notes the former in his statement, but does not delve into the latter.
In July 2018, Pelonomi Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Baesi Ramodula, admitted to OFM News the hospital does not have enough theatres to deal with the backlog.
The Botshabelo District Hospital and the Albert Nzula Hospital in Trompsburg, on the other hand, had available facilities, but not the specialists. So the plan at the time was that Pelonomi specialists would be moved around to these hospitals to perform the procedures and lower the backlog. This system began to work for the hospital, but several hiccups cited in the statement were encountered along the way.
The first is, the Botshabelo District Hospital was hit hard by the thunderstorms that hit the Mangaung area in February. According to Mvambi these heavy rains resulted in the damage of the hospital theatre’s roof, which saw leaks in the room. This brought operations in the theatre to a grinding halt. Then there was the issue of transferring patients to the hospital in Trompsburg and the Senorita Ntlabathi Hospital in Ladybrand for surgeries. Mvambi says the transfers required “protracted negotiations with patients” and the facilitation of available anaesthetists. A problem that Ramodula did not mention last year. DA Member of the Provincial Legislature, Mariëtte Pittaway, told media previously that she has received numerous complaints from orthopaedic patients who have to wait to have operations done due to the lack of facilities at the hospital.