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By Hein Kaiser

Journalist


Self-treatment drive: Gauteng hospitals show positive changes

Edenvale Hospital is one of 10 facilities earmarked for a major refurbishment.


It seems the media can still be society’s watchdog and push the authorities into action.

That’s my experience anyway, after two hospitals in Gauteng made significant changes after we reported on the rundown facilities.

Edenvale Hospital sports a new guard tower in the parking lot and there is a near-absence of litter.

What a difference. And while there were still a few hospital beds lingering curbside, they were in good repair. The wheelless gurneys were gone, too.

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Security was also stepped up and while I was James Bonding to see whether the Gauteng department of health had made good on its promises to start sorting out the mess encountered earlier this year, security spotted me and quickly walked me outside.

According to guard number one, photographs were not allowed and neither was inspecting the public health facility.

He called his supervisor, who in turn called his supervisor.

It was the head of security who calmed the situation, sharing with his colleagues that surprise media visits are alright.

Hospital chief executive Dr Zakhele Zitha, who was on a walkabout of the premises at the time, confirmed this.

He said: “You are very welcome to visit Edenvale Hospital anytime.”

He also shared that the facility will freely share information at any time. This was unexpected and refreshing.

Zitha believes management must be visible to both staff and patients.

He said: “Staff need to know that we are not only there when there are challenges or to reprimand, but also as support structures.”

A few months ago, he launched a campaign called “On the ground with CEO” in which a day is set aside for Zitha to spend a few hours working with staff in a dedicated unit in both clinical and nonclinical areas to experience what their challenges, successes and opportunities are.

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He said: “We appointed specialist heads of departments for key areas within the clinical units to enhance care of our patients.

“By prioritising the well-being of our staff through employee recognition, support visits and the employee value proposition campaign, we have observed better outputs from our staff, whom we refer to as Edenvale champions.”

And while it is not the Ritz of healthcare, the differences between now and then at Edenvale Hospital are significant.

Whereas previously there were no bins, the main stairwell now has wall-mounted waste disposal bin.

The floors looked as if they had been freshly polished and the less than pleasant odours had been replaced by an antiseptic hospital smell.

Work areas and outside drains have been cleaned. And there was not a hint of litter in sight.

Edenvale Hospital is one of 10 facilities earmarked for a major refurbishment, said Zitha.

And the place was busy. But it looked as if it was being managed in an orderly fashion.

Queues did not move too slowly and while the waiting room was near overflowing with patients, it seemed as if everyone was eventually seen to.

Next to the general waiting area is the casualty area. It was a breath of fresh air compared to on previous visits.

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The atmosphere was happier, the staff smiles wider and patients were no longer scattered about.

It felt as if the malaise of a few months ago had been given a shot of calm and a dose of organisation.

The other run-down hospital we reported on earlier, Tambo Memorial in Boksburg, also showed some positive changes.

Gone are the cobwebs on the ceilings. Gone is the mould on the main corridor.

Some chunks of crumbled concrete along the main passage through the hospital have also disappeared.

And the walls along the main walkway looked as if they had had a recent coat of paint.

But what’s underneath was still disappointing.

One floor down, and there has been no change in the peeling paint on the walls and tiles at shin level are either shattered or missing on the lower pharmacy floor.

The toilet on this level smells and looks worse than a few months ago.

Outside, the walls are still shedding paint but there were no patients in pyjamas begging in the car park.

The yard was tidy with little litter lying around. Progress, at whatever pace, should be lauded.

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