MEC shocked during surprise visit to hospital

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Maricelle Botha & Refilwe Mekoa

The MEC for Health in the Free State, Benny Malakoane, Thursday conducted an unsuspected visit to the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein, where he was met with several unpleasant surprises.  The visit forms part of a series of visits to Free State hospitals during which he is evaluating the overall state of the hospitals and whether patients are receiving quality care. A departmental spokesperson, Tebogo Oepeng, said they came across expired medicine at a medical depot earlier that day.  Malakoane was not at all happy with what he saw in many of the province’s medical institutions.

During his visit to Pelonomi Hospital, Malakoane checked some of the equipment in wards as well as patients’ files himself. He enquired about a bathroom that was being used as a storage room for unused wheelchairs and a faulty oxygen pipe in use.
“Clearly I am not happy with what I saw here today and I have been able to demonstrate some of the very basics that shouldn’t have been allowed to go on the way they have. I have committed my team to a no-nonsense approach to health service delivery. This can no longer be considered normal and things cannot continue to go on as they have until now,” he says.

He added that there will be no tolerance of anyone being a disgrace to the department of health. Malakoane says these visits are essentially for him to understand what exactly the circumstances in hospitals are. He calls it a fact-finding mission which will enable him to make decisions and to guide appropriately on what has to be done or implemented and what not.  From his recent surprise visits to different health institutions around the province, he noticed an immediate change in attitude and outlook on all management levels. His inspection visits started seven weeks ago and he said those who were not eager towards his approach, should leave health institutions.

Malakoane said even the basics lacked within the hospitals and he felt by attending to it the situation could have been avoided. “I also know the community will not be patient enough with us to provide what we say we will. We have to move with speed to ensure we deliver,” he says.