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Durban - A 103-year old Durban hospital will know by the end of next week whether it will receive a state subsidy, the KwaZulu-Natal health department said on Wednesday.
Last week Durban's McCord Hospital said it would have to close its doors at the end of March as a result of the provincial health department's failure to renew its subsidy.
However, on Wednesday the provincial head of department Dr Sibongile Zungu said no decision had been taken on a subsidy for the 142-bed hospital.
Speaking at a press conference in Durban, she said a committee in the department's hospital services section would meet next week to decide on the fate of McCord's subsidy.
“Funding has not been denied and it has not been approved. The committee that approves funding is sitting this (coming) week.”
This committee would also decide on the fate of the subsidies for about 60 other state-aided health facilities. These range from hospitals to clinics and mobile clinics.
On Friday in a statement posted on the hospital's website, CEO Kevin Smith said McCord had not received notification of an intention to renew its funding.
“As a result of the loss of this grant funding, McCord loses its licence to operate as a state-aided hospital and cannot afford to continue operating,” he wrote.
The Sunday Times reported that the staff at the hospital had received notices informing them it would close in March.
Zungu said the state had provided funding to the hospital primarily for the purposes of training interns, but that during the course of 2012 the hospital had informed the department it could no longer train interns as other sources of revenue had dried up.
The hospital had also lost its funding for its HIV/Aids program when funding from the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief came to an end. As a result the hospital had been forced to refer some 4000 patients to state facilities.
Zungu said subsidies were granted for a specific purpose and when those were no longer there, the department had to look where its money was going.
She said the option of the hospital being taken over by the state was not possible because the hospital had a “sizeable amount of debt”.
“We can take over a service, but we cannot take over a debt.” McCords hospital is a non-profit hospital that charges patients more than they would pay in a state facility, but less than they would pay at a private health care facility.” - Sapa