Fa­cil­ity claimed grants for dead men­tal pa­tients

Esidi­meni hear­ing told how NGO cashed in

Sowetan - - News - By Tankiso Makhetha

An un­qual­i­fied, in­ex­pe­ri­enced and ille­quipped healthcare fa­cil­ity con­tin­ued to cash in the grants of pa­tients af­ter their deaths fol­low­ing their move from Life Esidi­meni last year.

Dorothy Franks, direc­tor at An­chor House for in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled peo­ple told the Life Esidi­meni hear­ings chaired by re­tired for­mer deputy chief jus­tice Dik­gang Moseneke that they con­tin­ued to use so­cial grant money claimed on be­half of pa­tients who had died.

An es­ti­mated 1 370 men­tally ill pa­tients were moved to NGOs from April 1 to June 30 last year.

Franks said her care fa­cil­ity had 29 pa­tients regis­tered to re­ceive R1 500 each in grants, in ad­di­tion to the R150 000 a month her NGO re­ceived from the depart­ment. An­chor House was paid more than R500 000 to take care of pa­tients moved from Life Esidi­meni.

Franks said they were paid R535 000 to pro­vide care for 69 pa­tients trans­ferred to her by the Gaut­eng depart­ment of health.

Franks was grilled for a num­ber of trans­gres­sions that led to the deaths of a num­ber of pa­tients at her fa­cil­ity.

Col­lec­tively, Cul­li­nan Care and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre, Siyandinga and An­chor House in Cul­li­nan recorded 25 deaths.

An­chor House, ac­cord­ing to Franks, was es­tab­lished shortly af­ter a meet­ing was or­gan­ised by the depart­ment to fa­cil­i­tate the trans­fer of pa­tients from Life Esidi­meni af­ter its con­tract was ter­mi­nated on March 31 last year. Franks only re­ceived her li­cence to op­er­ate a care fa­cil­ity 11 days be­fore re­ceiv­ing pa­tients.

“I was is­sued with an op­er­at­ing li­cence on April 1,” she said.

She told the hear­ing pa­tients were brought to her fa­cil­ity with­out med­i­cal files, med­i­cal his­to­ries or even iden­tity doc­u­ments.

“We were only pro­vided with their pre­scrip­tions and dis­charge files. There was no way we would have known how to con­tact their next of kin or know what was wrong with them.”

The terms of Franks’ li­cence lim­ited her to tak­ing care of mi­nors. How­ever, she said she re­ceived pa­tients who were older than 18 with var­i­ous care needs not lim­ited to men­tal health chal­lenges.

“Why didn’t you make the health depart­ment aware that the terms of li­cence lim­ited you to tak­ing care of mi­nors?” asked Moseneke.

Franks re­sponded: “I didn’t check my li­cence when I re­ceived it, I just filed it. I thought the li­cence was for adults.”

Asked whether she knew how much money would be al­lo­cated for pa­tients un­der her care, Franks said: “I was paid R3 490 for a pa­tient, but I didn’t re­ceive it un­til end of Septem­ber [last year].”

Moseneke was crit­i­cal of Franks’s in­ten­tion of tak­ing care of pa­tients, par­tic­u­larly be­cause she was not qual­i­fied and did not have ex­pe­ri­ence.

“But the nurses that I em­ployed were qual­i­fied and knew what to do,” Franks said.

“From what I am gath­er­ing from what you are say­ing is that you gam­bled with peo­ple’s lives, with­out a proper li­cence, with­out med­i­cal records or proper staff,” Moseneke said.

/KA­BELO MOKOENA

Dorothy Franks pre­pares to be quizzed by ad­vo­cates who rep­re­sented the fam­i­lies of those who had died in the Life Esidi­meni tragedy.

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