R2.2m ten­der; zero equip­ment

Com­pany is rak­ing it in from lu­cra­tive hos­pi­tal laun­dry ten­der even though it does not have the ba­sic equip­ment needed to do the job

CityPress - - Front Page - POLOKO TAU poloko.tau@city­press.co.za

Acom­pany in Lim­popo is mak­ing an av­er­age of R2.2 mil­lion a month from a hos­pi­tal laun­dry ten­der even thought it has only one in­dus­trial wash­ing ma­chine and two com­mer­cial ones – all of which do not work. tech­ni­cal eval­u­a­tion re­port, a copy of which City Press has ob­tained, shows that Mphefhedzi Busi­ness En­ter­prise was awarded the con­tract to do the laun­dry of 22 hos­pi­tals across Lim­popo even though it was “not rec­om­mended”.

The doc­u­ment shows the com­pany did not even have ba­sic equip­ment to do the job – in­clud­ing irons, sort­ing ta­bles or prop­erly de­mar­cated work­ing ar­eas – and had only one dryer, which did not work.

This week, City Press saw hos­pi­tal sheets, blan­kets and pa­tient gowns from St Rita Hos­pi­tal in Sekhukhune hang­ing on makeshift wash­ing lines and fences, and strewn across a field piled high with lit­ter.

De­spite this, the com­pany’s owner, Oriel Masi­avhula, said that he was “to­tally un­aware” his com­pany had failed the eval­u­a­tion re­port, or that the laun­dry for use by hos­pi­tal pa­tients was be­ing im­prop­erly han­dled.

“I mostly mon­i­tor the de­liv­er­ies at hos­pi­tals and have not spo­ken to my man­ager in Seshego re­cently. But I will in­ves­ti­gate,” he said. “What I know is that we are not al­lowed to hang laun­dry in the open, but in a se­cluded area free of dust.”

Mphefhedzi Busi­ness En­ter­prise won the ten­der to pro­vide laun­dry ser­vices to 22 of the province’s 41 hos­pi­tals in June. It is paid an av­er­age R100 000 a month for each hos­pi­tal.

But Masi­avhula’s com­pany is not the only one leav­ing hos­pi­tal laun­dry out in the open.

City Press also saw linen and pa­tient gowns from Seshego Hos­pi­tal near Polok­wane be­ing left to dry in the same con­di­tions by em­ploy­ees of another laun­dry com­pany, Mog­wadi Trad­ing En­ter­prises, across the road.

An em­ployee there, who asked not to be named, said they washed the linen – much of which had been soiled with ex­cre­ment, urine, blood and vomit – by hand.

At Mog­wadi Trad­ing En­ter­prises, City Press saw work­ers us­ing a sin­gle steel basin to do most of the wash­ing be­cause the small do­mes­tic wash­ing ma­chine could not han­dle the amount of laun­dry com­ing in.

Com­pa­nies laun­der­ing hos­pi­tal linen are re­quired to have at least one 50kg-ca­pac­ity in­dus­trial wash­ing ma­chine and a sim­i­lar-sized tum­ble dryer.

The room in which the laun­dry is han­dled was piled high with filthy gar­ments – some smeared with hu­man waste – while plas­tic bags con­tain­ing more items were spread across the room. Soiled pa­tient gowns hung from the room’s bur­glar bars.

The em­ployee said some of her col­leagues did not want to wear gloves that had been pro­vided be­cause they were “un­com­fort­able”.

Lim­popo health spokesper­son Billy Teffo said hos­pi­tal linen should “un­der no cir­cum­stances be car­ried in open de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles, washed by hand or hung in the open to dry”.

Staff han­dling the linen must also wear masks and gloves, and clean linen must be com­pletely dry, fresh-smelling and free from stains.

Of­fi­cials from the health depart­ment are also sup­posed to pay unan­nounced vis­its to check on ser­vice providers’ com­pli­ance.

“If the depart­ment is made aware of this ano­maly, ac­tion will be taken against the re­spon­si­ble con­trac­tor in terms of gen­eral con­di­tions of con­tract,” said Teffo.

The depart­ment was in­formed on Wed­nes­day morn­ing, but by Fri­day the women were still wash­ing the linen by hand, and Mphefhedzi’s linen was still hang­ing out­side.

Two of Mog­wadi’s six di­rec­tors, Malane Mot­lapema and Jer­mina Morema, said they were un­aware their com­pany had re­ceived a con­tract to wash hos­pi­tal linen.

They were un­able to pro­vide de­tails for a com­pany spokesper­son.

Teffo said the depart­ment had pre­vi­ously re­ceived com­plaints from hos­pi­tals ser­viced by Mphefhedzi that some of the linen they re­ceived was wet and still dirty. But the ser­vice had im­proved af­ter dis­cus­sions with man­age­ment.

Masi­avhula said he had writ­ten to the depart­ment ask­ing for his con­tract to be de­layed in the Water­berg Dis­trict be­cause “we were not ready and still in the prepa­ra­tion stage. There were some chal­lenges when we started and I was not cop­ing as we tried to ad­just to the de­mand.”

OUT TO DRY Hos­pi­tal laun­dry cleaned by the staff of Mphefhedzi Busi­ness En­ter­prise cover wash­ing lines

ON THE FENCE Blan­kets and bed linen hang on makeshift wash­ing lines and a fence

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