CEO dodges media at SA’s dirtiest hospital

2014-02-16 14:00

The CEO of South Africa’s dirtiest hospital does not speak to the media. Joyce Mokoena was appointed to head Zebediela Hospital in Polokwane after a National Health Care Facilities audit gave it just 7% for cleanliness.

The department can’t say what, if anything, she’s done to turn things around, but if City Press’ own experience is ­anything to go by, not much has changed there.

On a visit to the hospital earlier this month, pieces of a ­broken toilet cistern and the flushing mechanism lay scattered ­behind a seat. Water leaked freely – a blanket on the floor the only barrier between the deluge and the passage.

Outside, heaps of filthy blankets lay strewn next to what appeared to be the laundry room. Patients said if they knew they had to go to Zebediela, they used the toilet at home first.

“If I have any choice, I would not come to this hospital,” said one patient. “There is a problem with everything here. This place, especially the wards, is so depressing and doesn’t give much hope for the really sick.”

A female patient said the hospital was frequently out of stock of medicine and there was a severe linen shortage. “It is ­normal to find someone here in bloodied clothes because there is nothing else the hospital can give them to change into. I was admitted here once and went for days without the linen being changed,” she said.

“Much needs to be done. It has to start with the attitude of nurses and other workers, who talk to patients like ­prisoners who are at their mercy.”

But Limpopo health department spokesperson Macks ­Lesufi was enthusiastic about Zebediela’s progress.

“There is improvement since 2011. We did an inspection and have since partnered with public works to assist with ­regular maintenance,” he said.

He was surprised when told how unkempt the hospital grounds were, then he blamed the knee-high grass on recent rains. He also dismissed the leaking toilet as an isolated ­incident – then admitted that the department had huge ­problems with infrastructure.

But he said that under Health MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, an “operational team” had visited clinics and hospitals and was coming up with “correctional measures” to fix what was broken.

Asked whether Mokoena – whose qualifications listed on LinkedIn include a BCom and a dental therapy qualification – was doing a good job, Lesufi said: “It’s not up to her whether she’s doing a good job. We’re satisfied that there is an ­improvement.”

When the audit was done in 2011, Zebediela had no CEO.

“At that time, hospitals generally didn’t have proper CEOs and there was huge vacancy rate. This led to an intervention by the national department, which came in to appoint CEOs, including Mokoena.”

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