We are a group of dedicated doctors, nurses and allied health workers desperate to improve the conditions of care in a critically run-down rural hospital in a dramatically impoverished and vulnerable community in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
The emergency room of any hospital is a place where emergencies gather, where time is of the essence and where efficiency saves lives. At Tintswalo hospital in Mpumalanga, a core of dedicated and talented medical staff is struggling to provide the most basic care due to unacceptable infrastructural limitations, which creates fatal inefficiencies, compromises dignity, and erodes community trust.
No privacy for intimate exams, plumbing clogged with hazardous and putrid wastes, roofing leaking directly onto critical patients during rains…the list goes on. While fixing these issues are critical to basic dignity, even more vital is the total absence of a triage area or triage system. i.e. a structured assessment that categorises patients into levels of urgency for the prioritization of care: the most fundamental operation of an emergency room.
Missing equipment makes monitoring impossible for our sickest infants with breathing difficulties and the absence of storage space (probably the most essential issue of all), means that stock is lost and wounds bleed out whilst we look for gauze and drip sets, patients lose brain cells while we rummage in a pile for resuscitation equipment or extrapolate parameters from faulty equipment.
This is completely unacceptable.
Tintswalo sees approximately 3000 patients a month in the emergency room, an enormous increase compared to its original function as a small rural facility. It has outgrown its infrastructural capacity and modifications have been adhoc and poorly constructed with plyboard. For example, consultation rooms are adjoining and most function as permanent passages, leaving the patient constantly exposed.
Even a few thousand dollars can make a visibly dramatic change, that will be immediately noticeable to the patients to instil trust, secure dignity and have a direct impact on lives and disability.