The University of the Free State (UFS) - in collaboration with the Free State Department of Health (DoH) - has initiated a programme to transport undergraduate students to and from the respective clinical platforms. The safety of undergraduate students doing their practical training at Pelonomi Hospital has been in the spotlight last month after the attempted rape of a medical intern, as well as the robbery of a medical officer in the parking area of the hospital.
The Department of Health is providing a fleet of six minibuses and Kombis, as well as drivers for the vehicles. The transport is available to the students at no cost, from 06:00 to 23:00 every day as well as on weekends and public holidays.
Prof Nathaniel Mofolo, head of the school of clinical medicine at the UFS, said: "This is the first initiative of its kind that the university has had with the provincial Department of Health. We are thankful for this initiative, as it will greatly assist in securing the safety of our students."
The initiative started on the morning of 8 July 2019, when groups of medical students boarded mini-buses and Kombis to the Pelonomi Hospital, National Hospital, Free State Psychiatric Complex, and the Mangaung University Community Partnership Programme (MUCPP).
Mofolo said there was a firm intention from both parties to extend the programme to undergraduate students in the School of Nursing, as well as to students in the School of Allied Health Professions during August 2019.
According to Mofolo, the decision to implement the transport programme was taken after student safety and wellness concerns were taken into consideration. "Although students can make use of the service on a voluntary basis, we have already received feedback that the service is being put to good use."
"We are hopeful that the transport programme will prevent the occurrence of similar incidents," said Mofolo.
Over the past month, the UFS, the DoH, and the executive management of Pelonomi Hospital have been working tirelessly to ensure the implementation of an agreed Safety and Security Plan, hence placing the safety of students, staff, and patients first.
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