MPs furious after Mthatha private hospital’s CEO dodges them

Picture: iStock

Angry parliamentarians, who visited the St Mary’s Hospital to see for themselves, vowed to report the CEO to the Life Healthcare Group’s head office.

The chief executive of a Covid-19-stricken private hospital in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, could be in trouble after he avoided accounting to visiting parliamentarians about the state of affairs at the facility.

Life Healthcare Group’s St Mary’s Hospital is reportedly experiencing a high number of Covid-19 infections, affecting both staff and patients.

On Tuesday, tensions were high as nurses protested against management’s decision to force them to work unprotected and despite a staff member having been found to be Covid-19 positive.

The staff, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed both Covid-19 negative and positive patients were placed in the same ward.

“We are at risk because we were told that those who are not positive must use their own medical aids to go test. The positive patients and those who are suspected of having the virus are in the same ward,” a nurse said.

Angry parliamentarians, who visited the facility this week to see for themselves, vowed to report the CEO to the Life Healthcare Group’s head office, which has already invited them to a meeting next week.

The portfolio committee on health and select committee on health and social services were on a second week of oversight visits to assess the state of quarantine sites and readiness of public and private hospitals to deal with Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape. They have been to the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Health committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo expressed disappointment at the CEO’s refusal to meet the committee.

The committees visited Cecilia Makiwane and Frere Hospitals in East London on Tuesday when they met management and staff. Frere was recently forced to close after staff contracted Covid-19.

On Tuesday when The Citizen phoned for comment, a man who answered refused to give his name, and also refused to pass the call to the manager or spokesperson.

“I told you I cannot help you,” he said and slammed the phone twice.

The Life Healthcare head office phones rang unanswered.

Dhlomo described the CEO’s behaviour as “unbecoming”. He said he was surprised by the CEO’s behaviour because all hospitals, including St Mary’s, that were to be visited knew about it.

“The CEO did not leave any kind of report of the challenges and the status of readiness of the hospital regarding Covid-19. This is shocking and inappropriate of the CEO,” Dhlomo said.

The Life Healthcare Group has requested to meet the committees next week to share the readiness of its hospitals to curb and fight the spread of Covid-19.

“When we meet Life Healthcare Group next week, the first thing they have to do is to explain the behaviour of their CEO.”

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