Ko­mani shock for MP on predawn over­sight visit

Daily Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - TEMBILE SGQOLANA tem­biles@dis­patch.co.za

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

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