Hospitals to be tested like never before

Uitenhage Provincial Hospital has recorded its first Covid-19 related death
Uitenhage Provincial Hospital has recorded its first Covid-19 related death

The world is battling a pandemic; a virus for which there is no cure. It has placed tremendous strain on the health systems of even first-world countries. In SA, our hospitals and clinics have begun to take strain, especially in the Eastern Cape.

The pandemic has held up a mirror to us as a society, showing up our many socioeconomic challenges and the inefficiencies in our government, particularly in this province we love.

For several weeks now, there have been tensions among staff and management at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital.

The staff have complained about a lack of proper protective equipment and poor or non-existent protocols when staff have come in direct contact with someone who has tested positive or when dealing with the corpse that was infected with the virus.

Every other week there have been problems.

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

The unions accused the hospital of expecting him to work every day regardless of his chronic condition — diabetes and high blood pressure.

It goes without saying that Maneli should never have been allowed, or forced, to continue working in a high-risk environment given his comorbidities.

But there appears to be a leadership crisis at the hospital, and it is ultimately the staff and patients that will suffer the most.

In April, the former CEO Marilyn Klaasen stepped down and on Thursday, acting CEO Jannes Moolman attempted to do the same, but it was not accepted.

The hospital is also without a nursing manager.

It is during trying times such as these that the true mettle of leaders will be tested.

Now is not the time for a hospital to be without core management.

There must be a dedicated management structure in place to lead the hospital team through this crisis.


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