PMB hospital crackdown

2009-07-15 00:00

A NEW medical manager has been appointed at the troubled Edendale Hospital by the MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, who blames the hospital’s “poor leadership” for its recent slow ARV roll-out programme.

This comes after a decision by Dhlomo to remove the Pietermaritzburg district manager, May Zuma-Mkhonza, after she failed to manage the hospital’s ARV programme roll-out.

Dhlomo visited Edendale Hospital yesterday evening where he listened to some of the concerns raised by staff and patients. Some of the issues raised by the hospital’s staff members included poor working conditions and staffing shortages.

Dhlomo promised to try to improve the working conditions and encouraged patients to join support groups that would help them deal with their challenges.

The MEC admitted that the hospital is plagued by major problems which include staff shortages in the pharmacy and poor management.

In June, the hospital was forced to cut down on its daily intake of ARV patients due to rising numbers and a dire staff shortage.

Patients were being referred to other clinics in the area.

Dhlomo made the announcement at a media briefing in Durban shortly after visiting Edendale and Addington hospitals following outcries over slow medication roll-outs.

Edendale Hospital has more than 11 000 patients enrolled on its ARV programme, the highest number in the country, but one that has put the lives of its patients in jeopardy with the slow roll-out of ARVs.

It was the outcry from the thousands of patients who visit the hospital each day that prompted Dhlomo to investigate the running of the hospital.

He told The Witness that he examined problem areas within the hospital and resolved to make changes to Edendale’s management team.

When The Witness broke the story about the ARV crisis at Edendale, Dhlomo said there was no crisis.

However, he told media yesterday that he should have said that he was not aware of the problems at the hospital at the time.

“I was not aware of the problems at the time. After visiting the hospital, I found that there were problems at the hospital.”

Dhlomo said that the current medical manager would be removed and replaced by a new manager.

The MEC would not reveal the name of the new medical manag­er, saying the appointment letter is being drafted.

“We had to rearrange and remove the leadership at Edendale to improve the hospital. We need a manager who is going to do a good job. He has to hit the road running so that services can resume,” he said.

Dhlomo blamed the Health Department for not filling the hospital’s chief executive office post with urgency.

To help alleviate the long waiting lines at the hospital, Dhlomo said, patients will be fast-tracked to other clinics in the area. A special initiation team comprising a doctor, nurse and a psychologist will then visit each of these clinics to initiate the roll-out process.

“We are hoping to expand the hospital’s current pharmacy and bring in more pharmacists to help dispense the medication. We want to assure our patients that this process will not be slow,” he said.

Dispensing times will also be extended to allow patients to pick up pre-packed medication.

At Addington Hospital in Durban, Dhlomo was confronted by angry patients who had waited in long queues to collect their medication.

More than 2?000 patients were waiting outside the hospital at 7?am when Dhlomo and area manager Dr Mandla Mhlongo visited the hospital.

The hospital is also experiencing a severe staff shortage in the pharmacy department.

Addington has also been operating without a medical manager since September 2008 when the incumbent retired.

“This situation is unacceptable. … Patients raised their concerns to me and there are processes in place to rectify things,” he said.

Private pharmacists would be brought in to help.

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