IN PICTURES: The difference a minister’s visit makes at Livingstone Hospital
From Parliament to Bisho and Port Elizabeth – from scooters to filthy hospitals – the Eastern Cape Health authorities has been in the firing line in the past few weeks over the state of healthcare in the province and its readiness to deal with the expected surge of COVID-19 cases.
Unhygienic conditions, as reported locally and internationally, at hospitals in Port Elizabeth prompted the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize to make a site visit to Livingstone Hospital on Wednesday. Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba accompanied him.
Mkhize, among others, gave clear instructions to hospital management to fix the glaring issues of hygiene and waste. During a tour of Livingstone Hospital, Mkhize at times stopped to point out issues of disrepair. At one point he wanted to know why a leaking sewerage pipe is not fixed. He also stopped at the drain where, according to media reports, rats were feeding on blood seeping into the drain.
Health authorities have since denied it was blood.
Service manager at Livingstone hospital, Bulelwa Qwasha, told Mkhize that the drain is outside the kitchen area and on that day beetroot was prepared in the kitchen and somehow ended up in the clogged drain. Some staff members use the area as a smoking area and saw the red liquid and took pictures, she explained.
Gomba during the earlier briefing Mkhize had with hospital management, provincial health management, civil society organisations and journalists, said food waste is a big problem. She punted the idea of food gobbler equipment that will liquidise discarded food to be flushed away.
Mkhize wanted to know when the issue with the drain will be fixed. According to hospital management, the issue will be fixed by next week and the minister wanted to know why it has to take a week to fix something.
Earlier during his briefing with hospital management, provincial health management, civil society organisations and journalists, Mkhize said management should not be bogged down by long bureaucratic processes for appointing the staff or fixing issues.
He stressed how critical hygiene is in health facilities.
“What we are facing are real practical challenges and these are things which we would like you to solve as quick as possible. The first is the question of who is in charge of which institution. Let’s solve that problem. Someone must take charge. Someone must take responsibility,” he said.
Recruitment for a new CEO for Livingstone Hospital is now underway, Gomba said during the briefing.
Dr Mthandeki Xamlashe, Head of Medical Service in the province, will act as CEO until someone is appointed in the position.
“The question of quality of care starts with cleanliness,” Mkhize said. “You have a team that is doing deep cleaning so we are going to start looking at the waste management sites. We are going to go straight to where it hurts. Anyone who walks into a hospital that is dirty, gets even sicker than they were before they got in. It’s a simple, basic issue. We need to focus on that. It’s a question of how the hospital is being managed.”
Gomba said a cleaning company is already on site to take care of waste and cleaning.
These pictures show Livingstone Hospital’s unhygienic waste piles last week, a day before Mkhize’s visit, and finally the much improved situation by the time of his visit on Wednesday.
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Save for a few repair issues, when Mkhize visited Livingstone Hospital on Wednesday, there were signs of improvement with waste sorted and stacked for collection and hospital floors were much cleaner.
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