Life Healthcare Group has apologised to government leaders for a stand-off at the group’s St Mary’s Hospital in Mthatha, where parliamentary oversight committee members and the Eastern Cape Health MEC were denied entry last week Monday.
On Wednesday, Life Healthcare Group regional manager Bruce Janssens confirmed that the chairperson of the national health oversight committee, Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo, and Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba were barred entry at their hospital during an oversight visit.
The Portfolio Committee on Health and the Select Committee on Health and Social Services were on their second week of oversight visits to assess the state of quarantine sites and the readiness of public and private hospitals to deal with Covid-19.
Dhlomo had said the hospital was identified for an oversight visit because of the challenges it faced with regard to high numbers of Covid-19 infections affecting staff and patients.
He said he sought a report from the hospital management about the challenges and the status of readiness of the hospital regarding Covid-19. But the team left empty-handed after they were denied entry, despite having informed the hospital about the visit.
Janssens explained that the incident, which he described as unfortunate, had happened after the nursing manager and the hospital manager went into quarantine after one of them tested positive.
“Our hospital nursing manager was put into quarantine on a Saturday afternoon; the hospital manager, obviously due to close contact with the nursing manager, went into self-quarantine immediately and unfortunately was not available for the visit on [last week] Monday morning.
“The person that was in charge of the hospital, unknowingly and unwittingly, did not give the entourage the answer that the hospital manager was in quarantine and would have appeared it was misread that the hospital management had not made themselves available,” said Janssens.
Janssens said: “It’s totally unintentional and Life Healthcare apologises on behalf of St Mary’s Hospital.”
Premier Oscar Mabuyane, who was on an oversight visit of the group’s three hospitals in East London on Wednesday, said he was impressed with operations at the private facilities.
“I am generally quite happy, I am impressed with the centres that I have seen. They are doing everything in their power to minimise the kind of cross pollution of the virus into the centres. There is a thorough work, I have moved around and spoke to staff. Personal protective equipment is there, and people are focused.”
The premier told the media he wanted to inspect allegations of mistreatment of staff and patients at the hospital.
Speaking at Life Beacon Bay Hospital, Mabuyane said: “There is a lot of fake news that goes around due to anxiety and fear.”