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Lautoka surgeries holdup

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

OPERATING theatres at the Lautoka Hospital will remain closed until investigations into a fire at the hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning are completed.

This was the word from Attorney-General, Minister for Civil Service and Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Speaking to the media after a tour of the fire-damaged building which housed the old operating theatre and Radiology Department yesterday, the A-G heaped praise on hospital staff for their efforts in ensuring patient safety was a priority.

"The fire was restricted to the old operating theatre which was not in use in any case — the new facility which is opposite it, did not get damaged at all," he said.

"However, it is part of the investigation scene and it cannot be used for the time being until the relevant authorities, including the National Fire Authority and Fiji Police Force, carry out their investigations."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum did not reveal what plans were in place for those who had been scheduled for surgery.

The A-G added that water used to douse the fire had seeped from the old operating theatre into the Radiology Department — rendering it unsafe for use.

He said the building had been earmarked for rehabilitation works and this would be carried out as scheduled.

"In the meantime, (Health) Minister Rosy Akbar and her team are making alternative arrangements with private sector providers for X-rays."

The NFA said five fire trucks and 16 fire fighters helped contain the blaze and no one was injured.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa issued a statement yesterday calling for a special inquiry into the incident.

She also acknowledged the efforts of hospital staff, police and military in ensuring patients were moved to safety during the incident.

"It is of great concern that an incident such as this has occurred," she said.

"We commend the immediate actions taken by medical staff of the Lautoka Hospital in evacuating patients upon receiving news of the fire.

"We also thank police officers and the military for their presence in ensuring the safety of patients and the public.

"We sympathise with the patients, medical staff, and the public who had to be evacuated in the early morning hours.

One of the biggest concerns raised by patients who were evacuated was the fact that only one lift — out of the three at the hospital — was operational.

Speaking to The Fiji Times, patients said they were forced to walk down flights of stairs while those with serious injuries had to wait their turn at the only operational lift.

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