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Addington Hospital’s management had been given three months to clean up the facility and restore it to its former glory or face the consequences, the KwaZulu-Natal health portfolio committee said yesterday.
On a visit to the beleaguered hospital the committee gave the management team until September to clean up its act.
The hospital has suffered bad publicity in recent months with allegations of drug theft and the suspension of four finance and supply chain managers in connection with fraud and corruption. There were also problems of unhygienic conditions and crumbling infrastructure.
Yesterday the portfolio committee chairwoman, Lydia Johnson, led the committee on a surprise visit of the hospital. What they saw was the worst of SA’s public health system.
Wards and passages were filthy, everywhere there was a foul smell and patients told the committee of “inhumane” treatment by nurses.
The pharmacy storeroom and the area around it was not monitored by surveillance cameras – possibly a reason for the high loss of drugs at the hospital.
Johnson was accompanied by IFP MPs Usha Roopnarain, Roman Liptak and Les Govender, and the DA’s Mark Steele, who are all committee members. The hospital management promised the portfolio committee that the following issues would be addressed within the next three months:
l The shortage of staff.
l The finalisation of disciplinary action against suspended officials.
l Poor leadership.
l The low morale and non-productivity of staff members.
l The lack of proper maintenance.
l The dysfunctioning finance department.
Johnson told the hospital’s acting chief executive officer, Ronnie Masilela, and his team of managers that conditions had to change or “a big stick” would be used.
“In the 1960s this hospital was sparklingly clean, and it was (this province’s) answer to Groote Schuur Hospital (in Cape Town). Now it does not even smell the way a hospital should smell,” said Johnson.
Roopnarain said the hospital had crumbling infrastructure, a shortage of doctors and a shortage of materials and medication.
“Even more disturbing is the unhygienic hospital environment which makes patients susceptible to hospital acquired infections. Other challenges include a huge backlog of surgical cases (320) and a lack of basic sundries,” said Roopnarain.
Masilela said the hospital faced challenges in maintenance of facilities such as air conditioners. He said there was a plan to deal with the dysfunctional laundromat, which had led to wards running out of clean linen.
The hospital was without a human resources manager, which had led to a number of unfilled vacancies in other departments. The finance department, which did not have a chief finance officer, only had 27 staff out of 44 positions.
Acting district manager Penny Dladla said a team, comprising senior managers from the province and district, were helping the hospital with its turnaround strategy.
Meanwhile, KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo praised the effort and commitment of staff and management at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi during a visit yesterday.
Dhlomo said the hospital had “turned the corner” and overcome past difficulties.
He said the hospital was the most improved facility of the 74 hospitals in the province.
Hospital board member Protas Cele said he was pleased with the progress, but he believed more could be done.
“These results were not achieved overnight; it took dedication and hard work to be able to rectify all the previous mistakes.
“We shall continue with enthusiasm and stay focused to maintain these standards,” said Cele. – Extra reporting by Ndumiso Mbanjwa and Fabio De Dominicis