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10 June 2019 | Story Lacea Loader

The executive committee of the University of the Free State (UFS) has today resumed the training of its undergraduate students in the School of Clinical Medicine at the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein with immediate effect.

The decision to suspend the training of undergraduate students at the hospital came after the attempted rape of a medical intern last week, as well as the robbery of a medical officer in the parking area of the hospital over the weekend.

This morning, discussions involving the university management, the Head of the Department of Health (DoH) in the Free State Province, the executive committee of the Pelonomi Hospital, and the South African Police Service (SAPS) took place regarding the security situation at the hospital. The DoH provided the university with a security project plan comprising immediate and medium-term interventions, and a commitment to execute the plan as a matter of urgency. The university’s executive management furthermore met with the management of the Faculty of Health Sciences and, based on a safety risk assessment, the university’s executive management agreed that undergraduate students could again fully access the clinical platform at Pelonomi Hospital.

Interventions in the security project plan include the installation of high-mast lights in the precinct of the hospital, reparation of the perimeter fence, security locks, and limiting access to the hospital and the hospital grounds after 20:00 until 06:00. A Venue Operation Centre (VOC) made up of SAPS, institutional security management, and the Community Policing Forum will also be established at the hospital.

“The main focus and concern for the executive management of the university is the safety of its students and staff. We are satisfied with the security plan and the overall interventions committed to by the DoH and will monitor the implementation of these interventions with the management of the Pelonomi Hospital and the DoH. The security interventions will alleviate the situation at the hospital in order for the university to continue sending its undergraduate students there for training,” said Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor, during a media briefing today.

Prof Petersen also met with undergraduate students in the Schools of Clinical Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions today to discuss the situation at the hospital. Trauma counselling is provided to undergraduate students and staff and those in need of counselling at the Pelonomi Hospital.

The DoH has furthermore extended its bus service between the clinical platforms in Bloemfontein to students in need of transport of the School of Clinical Medicine according to time slots as from the beginning of the second semester. This service will ultimately be extended to undergraduate students in the Schools of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. “We will also look into further transport solutions for the longer term for our students,” said Prof Petersen.

Undergraduate students from the university’s Schools of Clinical Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions are trained on the clinical platforms in Bloemfontein – these include the Pelonomi Hospital, Universitas Hospital, National Hospital, the Mangaung University Community Partnership Programme (MUCPP), and the Free State Psychiatric Complex.

Although these clinical training platforms are under the jurisdiction of the DoH in the Free State Province, they form a critical part of the training of undergraduate students in the university’s Faculty of Health Sciences. Staff on the joint establishment of the UFS and the DoH also work at hospitals on the clinical platforms.

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Lacea Loader (Director: Department of Communication and Marketing)
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