Johannesburg – The R500m hospital opened amid much fanfare by Gauteng premier David Makhura to help with the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases has only had 25 patients since it started operating in May and currently has six.
The Gauteng Health Department spent R500m refurbishing the hospital, which was donated to the province by AngloGold Ashanti hospital as part of the response to Covid-19 with the hope that it would also permanently contribute to the provision of quality healthcare in the West Rand.
However, Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi has revealed that the 175-bed hospital, which has a staff complement of 32 that includes four doctors and 21 nurses, only has six patients. These patients, she said, only receive “step down services” and need to be transferred to other hospitals in the area for specialist treatment.
In a written response to the DA’s Jack Bloom which IOL has also seen, Mokgethi says none of the beds have oxygen provision for patients as procurement processes were at the finalisation stages regarding the service provider for oxygen delivery.
In her response, Mokgethi also reveals that those who need specialist treatment are transferred to Leratong, Sterkfontein, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Carletonville Hospitals.
According to Bloom, it was tragic that the expensive refurbishment of the hospital was to provide much-needed ICU beds to Covid-19 patients but can’t be used as they don’t have equipment.
“None of the beds have oxygen provision for patients, which is the main thing that saves lives in this terrible pandemic.
“There are 32 staff running this hospital and 24 more staff are being recruited to start on 1 August.
“It is scandalous that so much money has been spent on this hospital which is far from major population centres and currently has 175 empty beds and vastly more staff than patients.
“Meanwhile, other public hospitals are straining to cope with the flood of Covid-19 patients and many die because of a dire shortage of ICU beds.
Bloom said it would have been far better to have spent the R500m on extra beds and staff at other hospitals rather than “this white elephant hospital”.
“The Special Investigating Unit is investigating the spending of funds on the hospital which confirms my suspicion that corruption is involved in this appalling waste of money.
“The DA will push for accountability in this matter and a better use of funds to save lives of hospital patients in Gauteng,” Bloom said.
According Motalatale Modiba, Head of Communication at the Gauteng Department of Health, the hospital has now started receiving patients as the number of patients treated at the facility as of July 11 to July 22 is 18.
“It is a 175 bedded hospital and will assist in addressing the dire shortage of critical care beds in the West Rand district and relieve pressure from both Leratong and Carletonville hospitals,” he said.
Article written by: Botho Molosankwe
Photo credit: University of Oxford