Chaos at Uitenhage hospital after staffer’s Covid-19 death

Uitenhage Provincial Hospital
Uitenhage Provincial Hospital
Image: NOMAZIMA NKOSI

Uitenhage Provincial Hospital was thrown into chaos on Thursday when union members protested and the acting CEO tried to hand in his resignation.

Acting CEO Jannes Moolman  tried to step down on Thursday morning following a meeting with nursing union Nehawu.

The  hospital is also without a nursing manager.

The nursing manager was removed in April along with the former CEO Marilyn Klaasen  when protesting staffers said they believed the pair were endangering staff members’ lives as they were not providing the requisite personal protective equipment.

Late on Thursday,  health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana said Moolman had returned to his post.

Earlier in the day nurses, cleaners and porters marched and sang struggle songs on the hospital’s six floors as they asked other staff members to join the protest.

Their protest took place following a hospital employee’s Covid-19 related death.

Mbulelo Maneli, a driver for the hospital, died on Youth Day, June 16,  after complications relating to the virus.

In a statement on Wednesday on Facebook, Nehawu regional secretary Sweetness Stokwe paid tribute to Maneli and accused hospital management of expecting him to work every day regardless of his chronic condition.

Staff said he was a diabetic with high blood pressure.

Stokwe said Maneli took a Covid-19 test on June 5, received his positive diagnosis on June 8 and died eight days later.

Maneli was at the forefront of protests by workers at Uitenhage Provincial Hospital.

Maneli was advocating for staff to get  PPE and stay at home in isolation while waiting for Covid-19 results, and had  demanded transparency from the hospital.  

On Thursday, Nehawu branch convener Nico Nelson confirmed that Moolman had tried to step down as acting CEO.

Nelson Mandela Bay  district manager of health  Darlene de Vos  confirmed Moolman had sent in a letter saying he was no longer prepared to act as CEO.

She said, however,  an acting CEO could not simply resign.

De Vos confirmed the department had received a letter from Moolman but said the department had not yet accepted it.

“He is still the acting CEO. His letter was not accepted yet, so therefore he is still the acting CEO.

“The department is planning to have a meeting at Uitenhage Provincial Hospital in an effort to address the challenges,” she said.

De Vos said to date five hospital staffers had contracted Covid-19. Two had recovered and one had died.

Nelson accused the hospital of failing to do a risk assessment, saying if it had done so, people like Maneli would not have been expected to work.

“Our staffers are risking their lives every day by coming to work because they are not protected and this is evident by the number of staffers who’ve tested positive for coronavirus,” Nelson said.

Several allegations regarding workers being told to continue coming to work while waiting for their results have been made against the hospital.

After hours of trying to get answers from the Eastern Cape department of health, Manana finally replied saying a meeting had been scheduled for Friday.

“We are meeting with management at Uitenhage Provincial tomorrow morning.

“We are aware of Mr Moolman’s return to his original post. It’s true they do not have a nursing manager,” Manana said.

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