Health portfolio committee calls for upgrades at Tembisa Hospital

02 February 2021 - 11:30
By cebelihle bhengu AND Cebelihle Bhengu
Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital is the subject of a report detailing the scandalous treatment of a Covid-19 patient.
Image: Thulani Mbele Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital is the subject of a report detailing the scandalous treatment of a Covid-19 patient.

Parliament's health portfolio committee has called for the health department to upgrade infrastructure and address staffing issues at Tembisa Tertiary Hospital.

On Monday, the committee said it visited the hospital on Saturday following the release of the report which detailed circumstances surrounding the care and death of Shonisani Lethole in the hospital last June.

The committee had visited the hospital early last year to assess its state of preparedness for the Covid-19 pandemic. It said while it expressed satisfaction at the time, the institution needs more work to function effectively.

Record keeping, infrastructure and resources are among the chief concerns noted by the committee’s chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. These should have been addressed when the hospital was made a tertiary facility in 2012. 

“The resources in terms of infrastructure, staffing and equipment, which needed to be upgraded to meet the new grade, were not upgraded. They need to be upgraded as the starting point to resolve problems at the hospital.

“Clinical record keeping has to be kept properly for proper handover and proper management of patients. Furthermore, management and supervision of junior health-care professionals must be strengthened and gaps need to be adequately addressed,” said Dhlomo.

Lethole reached out to health minister Zweli Mkhize and complained about mistreatment at the hospital two days after his admission on June 23. He described the conditions as "becoming unbearable" and claimed he had not eaten in 48 hours.

After his death, Mkhize asked the health ombudsman to investigate Lethole’s claims.

Some of the ombud’s findings into his death include that Lethole received substandard care at the hospital. He had tested positive for Covid-19 upon admission but died without receiving his test results and was not offered food for 100 hours and 54 minutes.

Hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi said the report contained false and misleading information. 

“Not all staff members were interviewed for the report and they rejected affidavits of patients who were witnesses. The ones they went with for the report, it’s one-sided,” Mogaladi claimed.

“Ironically, there were 38 patients in the ward but only one person did not eat,” he said.

The health department has committed to implementing the recommendations. It said those who seek to challenge the report will be doing so in their individual capacity.

The Gauteng health department served Mogaladi with a notice of suspension on Friday.