Facility claimed grants for dead mental patients
Esidimeni hearing told how NGO cashed in
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.
Dorothy Franks prepares to be quizzed by advocates who represented the families of those who had died in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.