The Helen Joseph Hospital has recorded an increase in mental healthcare patients, with some patients coming from outside of the hospital’s feeder area.
This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, responding to a question in the legislature.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Gauteng Health Department said that as at January 2022, Helen Joseph had treated 876 patients at the Emergency Department compared to 80 in January 2021.
The department explained that at Ward 2 and 3, 1 395 people were treated by January 2022, compared to 620 in 2021, and the outpatient department had treated 520 patients by January 2022, compared to 244 by January 2021.
MEC Mokgethi said that the increase in admissions can be attributed to poor socio-economic circumstances aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, large scale use of illegal substances, and unwillingness of some families to take back members with mental health illness upon discharge.
She added that the temporary closure of sections of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) has also contributed to the increase in patients.
The MEC said various measures are being introduced at hospital to ensure the provision of care for the growing number of mental health patients.
“These include the increase of bed capacity as well as repurposing a temporary structure to house more patients. The hospital is also liaising with other psychiatric wards in other facilities to transfer patients whenever there is capacity,” Mokgethi said.
The MEC has pleaded with families who refuse to take back their loved ones with mental health illnesses to work with government and welcome their family members with care upon discharge from health facilities.
She noted that more needs to be done at various health facilities, however, the provincial government is making efforts to ensure that all facilities are up to standard.
Meanwhile, last week Mokgethi visited the newly opened psychiatric ward at Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital in Soweto.
“We are making efforts to ensure that psychiatric wards across our health facilities meet the standards and regulations of the Mental Health Care Act. The wellness of mental health patients is our top priority, thus the installing of 24-hour security cameras to monitor and ensure patient safety,” the MEC said. – SAnews.gov.za