Komani shock for MP on predawn oversight visit
Patients washing with cold water, some using an urn without the supervision of a nurse to boil their water, dirty and leaking toilets and a severe shortage of staff are among the many woes afflicting Komani psychiatric hospital.
Yesterday morning, DA MP Terri Stander and media from three local newspapers went on an unannounced oversight visit to the hospital at 6.45am and made startling discoveries.
The visit was stopped 45 minutes later by acting CEO Mavuso Malindi, who bluntly told the MP: “Whether you are an MP or whatever, you must announce when you are going to visit and get permission.”
Attempts by Stander to get hold of health department SG Dr Thobile Mbengashe and get permission to visit more wards failed as his phone was switched off.
Stander and the journalists visited wards 5, 6 and 13.
The Dispatch saw about 100 patients, half of whom wore tatty clothes and had no shoes. A staff member, who did not want to be named fearing victimisation, claimed a parliamentary committee that visited the hospital in June did not speak with the staff about their work conditions or the state of the hospital.
He said there was a shortage of staff at the hospital and that wards 1,4, 5, 6 and ward K had more than 50 patients and only one professional nurse and an assistant nurse or general assistant working per shift.
“It is easy for patients to escape as there is not enough staff to look after them.
“There was a time where patients who use ARVs and epileptic medication did not get their medication at night because of staff shortages,” he said.
“Recently patients’ clothes did not come back from the company that is doing laundry. There is a laundry here which just got broken into, but it is not working. There is a company that is doing our laundry.”
He said patients’ clothes were torn and they had no shoes.
“In ward 5 and 6 patients wash with cold water while in the wards that have urns only a few patients use them. The boiler is not working,” he said.
Stander said the pre-dawn timing of the oversight visit was deliberate so that she could get a realistic picture.
“Having to witness patients boiling their water using a hot water urn was not right,” she said.
Anyone could gain access to the workshop and boiler as there is no security. The garage door is half open and there is no one there.
“There are broken toilets, lights in the bathroom are not working in wards 5 and 6 and there are allegations of corruption in issuing of tenders and nepotism,” she added.
“There are allegations of corruption which warrant a criminal investigation, and I will be laying charges against the hospital management.
“I will also contact DA Eastern Cape shadow MEC for health Jane Cowley to submit a list of questions to the MEC.”
Provincial health spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said the hospital had urns which patients used. “Hot water is not coming from the taps.” The department was investigating and would respond later, he said.
Having to witness patients boiling their water using a hot water urn was not right Terri Stander