Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has shot down calls for the Eastern Cape Health Department to be placed under administration.
“We’re not thinking about that and the reason is you take over when there’s a whole breakdown of management, the reluctance of following directives and instructions and the internal inability for people to cooperate to an extent that it doesn’t actually help what you say and have to go in and take that over,” Mkhize said.
However, he said the province is not there yet.
Mkhize was speaking at the Livingstone Tertiary Hospital on Wednesday, in Nelson Mandela Bay, where he was assessing the province’s state of readiness for the COVID-19 peak.
Currently, he said the national department is in the process of removing their administrator in the North West because the situation is going back to normality.
“We don’t believe that we have to do that here. What we have to do here is to reinforce the way that we have done.”
The Eastern Cape currently has a newly created Project Management Unit (PMU) to assist with its COVID-19 interventions.
He also threw his weight behind the Premier, MEC and Senior Management.
“They have the responsibility to run the department and our responsibility to make sure that they do and in this case, we’re still comfortable they should be able to do that.”
As of Tuesday, the Eastern Cape has 66 759 positive cases and 945 deaths.
Meanwhile, he said the department would ensure they have enough beds and staff to address some of the challenges.
He also stressed the quality of care which he believes starts with cleanliness.
The Livingstone Tertiary Hospital has been under the spotlight for failing safety audits, being infested with rats, while there are staff shortages.
“We’re going to start looking at the waste management side. We’re going to start looking at the rubble and those rats and we want to see what happened there.”
“Anyone who walks into a dirty hospital gets sicker than they were before they got into hospital. It’s a simple basic issue.”
Mkhize said it is not a question of whether the facility has brooms or not, but one of management and that needs to be dealt with.
Mkhize said the hospital must ensure it had adequate human resources.
“The people who must look after the patients must look after the patients. We must ensure we have enough in numbers to give attention where it’s needed.”
The Minister has also given the province the greenlight to hire staff as the need arises.
Meanwhile, other issues of soft services such as food and general care and attention are also important.
“These days, people just take a photo and tweet it and they know we’ll find that out. That’s good because you don’t need to go through the whole protocol of reporting.”
In addition, Mkhize said the province needs to add more beds to the 3 500 that are currently available as the province is expected to reach its peak in August and September.
“Now we need every hospital and every clinic and they need to know how to deal with COVID-19 itself. That’s what puts us under pressure.”
He was pleased that the Eastern Cape had renovated some dilapidated hospitals.
They are working on oxygen piping which the Minister conceded was an issue.