Oshakati Hospital Theatres to Close for Festive Season

The Oshakati Intermediate Hospital will close its theatres for the festive season. Only emergency cases will be attended to during that period.

Oshakati hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Josephine Augustinus, announced this in a letter dated November 17, 2014, circulated to both public and private health officials in Ohangwena, Oshikoto, Omusati and Oshana regions, who refer patients to Oshakati or those doctors who conduct operations of cold cases in the hospital’s theatres.

“Please be informed that the following arrangements have been made for the festive season. All theatres will be closed from December 15, 2014, to January 19, 2015, except for emergencies. Cold cases will not be attended during the period in question,” announced Augustinus.

All referrals and operations involving cold cases will not be attended to from 15 December 2014 to 19 January 2015.

Cold cases are those that do not require urgent operations or medical conditions, which need treatment, yet do not present an immediate threat to the patient’s life.

The closure of state hospital theatres during the festive season, although opposed by the public on numerous occasions, is not a new thing in the public health system, as it has been going on for years.

Most hospitals are already understaffed when it comes to state doctors, a situation made worse when most of these medical officials go on holiday in December.

New Era understands theatres at all referral hospitals – Katutura, Central, Rundu and Oshakati – will close for a specific period during the festive season.

“District hospitals should schedule their referrals before the closing date or after that,” said Augustinus.

New Era could not get hold of Augustinus for a comment on the matter yesterday. But when approached for comment, the Ministry of Health and Social Services’ Public Relations Officer, Ester Paulus, said the decision to only attend to emergencies is to allow the ministry to clean the theatres, a practice which should be done at least once each year, and to reduce the workload seeing that some of the doctors operating at the state hospitals normally go on leave during this time of the year.

“We make use of state and private doctors at our hospitals, and most private doctors go on holiday during December, meaning there is less staff on duty. This is the reason why referral hospitals will only perform emergencies because of the reduced staff numbers. Theatres also need to be cleaned once a year, this will also provide an opportunity to rehabilitate the theatres,” Paulus explained.

Paulus also explained that the shortage of doctors at state hospitals also presents a challenge because the state has to rely on private doctors for medical assistance.

“Due to the lack of doctors in the country, the ministry in recent times undertook a robust campaign to ensure that enough students are trained to become doctors to fill the gaps at our hospitals. We hope that after the public-private partnership policy of the ministry has been implemented, healthcare provision will improve significantly. This will also bring an end the situation where we have to stop some theatre-related activities because of limited doctors and lack of facilities,” she said.

Source : New Era