When the giving Christmas mood is at fever pitch, at Princess Marina Hospital’s maternity ward this week there were no goodies for patients but a scramble for cover as the ceiling unhinged and fell on the least suspecting inhabitants.
Several sources revealed that new mothers and their infants got the shock of their lives in the wee hours of Tuesday when the ceiling of a maternity ward collapsed and fell on them. The mothers and their crying babies had to be evacuated, pending renovations.
Eye witnesses say had it not been for the motherly instincts that kicked in when the dilapidated ceiling fell down, there could have been a serious disaster. “It happened so fast that there was no time to rush out. All they could do was to shield their babies from the debris,” said an eye witness.
According to the eye witness, despite the extent of the fall most victims escaped unscathed except for one, who got a minor scratch on the back. The remains of the dilapidated ceiling indicate that the ceiling has likely been subjected to heavy soaks over time, most probably from rain.
Princess Marina Hospital officials have played down the incident as “just a natural disaster like any other and it could have been prevented if they knew it was going to happen,” said hospital Chief Communications and Public Relations Officer, Donnel Kutlapye in response to a questionnaire.
He said that the ward was renovated in 1994 and has been in good condition since. “The ceiling was intact a day before it collapsed. However we (Princess Marina Hospital) recently issued a press release indicating that the hospital is currently undergoing preventative maintenance,” said the PR officer.
He revealed that when the incident occurred the ward was occupied by 13 mothers and six babies. Kutlapye added that only four people had some discomfort but on assessment they were found to have no significant injuries. None of the babies had any injuries. “The hospital has been counseling the affected patients and their relatives. The contractor is currently on site to fix the affected part of the building,” said Kutlapye.
He said the incident has reduced the carrying capacity of the ward, and other patients are being sent to local clinics. “We expect the ceiling to be fixed within two weeks. However, we still urge the low risk pregnant patients to use clinics with maternity service,” he said. Currently, he said, low risk patients are being sent to local clinics with maternity wing for deliveries and observation. Other patients have been moved to the general ward.