Windhoek Central Hospital suffers blackout

The Central State Hospital's neonatal ward and operating theatre had to be evacuated because of a power failure yesterday.

29 March 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



The Windhoek Central Hospital's neonatal unit and theatre were left in a state of panic yesterday morning when they were hurriedly relocated to local private hospitals when a sudden blackout occurred at the hospital, leaving premature babies and patients in need of oxygen in danger.

The executive director in the ministry of health and social services, Dr Ben Nangombe, confirmed the incident, saying it was caused by a short-circuit and was being attended to.

He dismissed concerns that it may have been the result of non-payment of water and electricity bills by the ministry.

“It was just a technical problem that occurred and it has affected the neonatal unit and the theatre. We have engaged the municipality; we have engaged the ministry of works which is responsible for the maintenance of government buildings. They were supposed to be dispatched immediately, so the relevant authorities were informed,” he said.

According to Nangombe, affected patients will be returned to the Windhoek Central Hospital once the electricity supply is restored.

It is not the first time that the theatre and some parts of the Windhoek Central Hospital has been plunged into darkness, leaving critically ill patients at greater risk.

In 2016, a baby died moments after being transferred to a private hospital after the Windhoek Central Hospital intensive care unit (ICU) experienced a power outage that lasted several hours.

At the time the back-up power generator worked for just an hour before it failed, prompting medical personnel to use cell phones as flashlights to attend to critically ill patients, while worried relatives sat outside in the dark waiting room.



Contingency

Nangombe yesterday said they have since adopted a contingency plan which allows patients to be transferred to private heath facilities in an emergency.

“We could not risk the lives of the patients and we acted immediately, and we commend the health professionals who acted so swiftly and private health facilities that were ready to assist. That is really what this is all about. We repeat that provision of healthcare is a partnership,” he said.

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