- The makeshift facility at Northdale Hospital where a patient died had been erected for over a month.
- The CEO who was in charge of the hospital could still face disciplinary action.
- Managers at district and provincial level could also face harsh action.
The makeshift facility that was used as a "flu clinic" at Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg, where 67-year-old Sibusiso Khumalo died, had been standing for more than a month, KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu has said.
This after two senior officials were placed on precautionary suspension, and the acting CEO, who was on sick leave, was "redeployed" to her original position following the outcry over the facility.
"At face value, it looks like this has been happening for a couple of months and that is why in our disciplinary processes and our engagement, the acting CEO is not immune because she has only been off work for a couple of weeks now."
Simelane-Zulu made the revelation on Thursday during a press briefing with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who is visiting KwaZulu-Natal as the province enters its Covid-19 peak.
This is Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg. These are make shift shelters where they keep Covid19 patients. It’s a parking lot covered with tent like material on the sides. My father took his last breath here on Saturday at 2am. @kznhealth @DrZweliMkhize pic.twitter.com/EzTZF6a93K— Hlengiwe Khumalo (@mamntungwa) August 3, 2020
She told media that, while the hospital's acting CEO was off sick for two weeks, the facility had been put up before she was ill.
"When all this happened, she was leading the facility. When we said we are taking actions, we are taking actions toward management who took a decision to [erect] a facility like that."
Simelane-Zulu said the buck would not stop with her and could also go as far up as provincial officials.
"One of our main responsibilities is to ensure the dignity of our patients is sustained. That is what we are working towards. Besides looking at what the management and facility level did not do, we are also looking at what district level management did not do.
"Those are the people who're supposed to be on a daily basis managing the facilities that we have. We also have managers at a provincial level that are supposed to be overseeing the districts. The consequences of this could even go to a provincial level, but we are still waiting for that report, so we are procedural in our actions."
'Flu clinics' should have been indoors
Simelane-Zulu said that, while flu clinics were called for by Mkhize three months ago, the facility was meant to be inside the hospital and never an outside structure.
She said the only outside structure allowed would be a screening facility that would also have to be in a sealed-off and secure tent.
"These [flu clinics] have to be inside a facility because sometimes you need oxygen, need a doctor to see you and all of that. We found that in Northdale, they decided to put everything in one space."
This week, Hlengiwe Khumalo posted a video of a makeshift parking lot facility where her 67-year-old father died of hypoxia.
He had also complained of feeling cold when he was admitted to the improvised facility. After a nurse allegedly told him there was nothing she could do, one of his children went back home to fetch him a blanket.
Two managers have thus far been suspended pending a report from the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the exact circumstances around Khumalo's death and the erecting of the makeshift facility.