'We're not starving patients': Bara CEO says hospital has enough food

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Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
  • The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital says it has enough food for patients. 
  • The hospital CEO applauded nurses who had bought food for patients.  
  • Random Act of Kindness has been helping to provide food to the hospital.

The Gauteng health department says it is not in a financial crisis and there is enough food for patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. 

The department claims the hospital - and others in the province - only had a temporary problem with the supply of bread. 

On Friday, Gauteng's Health MEC, Nomathemba Mokgethi, was at the Soweto hospital.

She said: "We had issues around bread supply. There has been food at the hospital - so, people, don't get worried."

Mokgethi said the supply issue was because a service provider had not been paid. Lerato Madyo, the department's chief financial officer, said service providers were owed R4 billion.

"I don't want to dispute that we have a budget shortfall," she said.

READ | Bara hospital runs out of food, nurses pool money to buy patients lunch

The hospital's CEO, Dr Nkele Lesia, said there were strategies in place, like baking bread, when bread was not delivered. 

On Thursday, News24 reported that nurses pooled their own money to buy corn on the cob to feed patients.

In response to that, Lesia said: "Maybe the mitigation strategies didn't go far ahead. Nurses advocate for patient care and they did that out of the kindness of their hearts, not because we are in a crisis situation. I thank those who did that, but we were not starving patients."

However, nurses and doctors on the ground disagreed with the department and hospital management. A doctor, who spoke to News24 on condition of anonymity, said 30 patients had to share 16 pieces of chicken on Thursday.

"They had to cut the pieces in half, so that everyone could have a piece. How do you feed an adult half a piece of chicken? It is upsetting to see things like that, and the department then denies there is a food shortage. This has been persistent and ongoing.

"They are denying that food is an issue. If food is not an issue, then it is cash. This is why people leave the public sector."

READ | PPE corruption: Tearful ex-cop accused of tender fraud begs court to be released on bail

However, Lesia said the hospital had enough food.

"We always tell nurses to order for the full capacity of wards, even when the ward is not full. So that when new patients are admitted, they can find food."

The charity organisation, Random Act of Kindness, has been assisting the institution with food supply this week.  

NGOs had to step in after the Chris Hani Baragwana
NGO Random Act of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread and 400 sandwiches after patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital ran out of food.

Shariffa Khan, of the organisation, said he had a "dialogue" with the hospital management on Thursday and was informed that bread was the only issue.  

"What they are telling us is not what we are hearing on the ground. Someone is not telling the truth. They are not going to shove us out of the equation.  

"We spoke the truth, and we were not at loggerheads with the department. We are trying to help the patients. We are the people's spokespeople."

On Wednesday, Khan called for assistance on social media. When the hospital was made aware of it, they met with him.  

NGOs had to step in after the Chris Hani Baragwana
NGO Random Act of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread and 400 sandwiches after patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital ran out of food.

"They made me delete the posts and made me write a social media post that they approved. They just wanted to do damage control while I was trying to help."

Lesia said the hospital met with Khan to formalise the donation relationship.

"We cannot have a person donating without a formal arrangement. What happens when patients get food poisoning? Who is going to account? It has to come through us, as the accounting managers."

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