By Mhlonishwa Hlophe | 2020-05-31
While the Lubombo Referral Hospital has played a tremendous role in the fight against the coronavirus, internal activities there are not as good.
Patients at the hospital have raised concerns of the food not being enough, or not being served on time.
An even bigger scandal is that the patients are convinced their food gets stolen – by the very people who should be looking at their well-being!
Health experts argue that food should be timely made available to patients, be sufficient and be made available in a consistent basis.
However, that seems not to be the case at the revamped Lubombo Referral Hospital. As a result health chiefs have been made aware of some staff members who ‘eat patients’ food’, and some carry leftovers to their homes, said a source at the hospital.
The catering company has also been accused of being stingy, in that the rations are small, and therefore patients are not fed adequately.
The Lubombo Referral Hospital is being used to quarantine confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the country. After lying idle for years, the hospital finally came to life, at a crucial time when the country needed an ideal place where patients would be kept while undergoing treatment for the coronavirus.
What makes this facility ideal, according to Health Minister Lizzie Nkosi, is its surrounding; away from the hussle and bussle of the two cities, and isolated enough to not pose any further threat of contamination.
The allegations were made by some of the staff members based at the hospital. They mentioned the culprits were an orderly and a nurse, tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that all the patients are well served.
The source said normally, the patients are fed three times per day. She said the most worrying part is that now the hospital has also admitted children. She said one cannot expect a child to be content with three meals per day.
“The patients start off the day with breakfast at 7am, followed by lunch at 1pm, then supper at 8pm. For breakfast, they are served with bread and tea and sour porridge. Then for lunch, they get one (1) spoon of porridge with beef or chicken, and a spoon of mealie-rice with beef or chicken for supper. You can’t tell me people on medication can be content with these meals,” said the source.
She further blamed the catering company for cooking less food when in actual fact they are paid handsomely for the job they are doing by government. She said the company should ensure that the patients are served sufficiently.
She said it should ensure that it provided extras for those who may want more, rather than giving the leftovers to orderlies and nurses, who are paid and have food at their homes.
A senior matron when alerted about the matter firstly stated that she was not the right person to comment but the ministry, she asked not to be mentioned and said; “The information that we receive is really important as it helps us to determine when and where we inspect. We review all information we receive and take action where appropriate.”
She further mentioned that the business community regularly donated to the hospital and some of the donations did not reach to the deserving beneficiaries.
“It’s painful to observe some of the patients not having Vaseline or face cloths. The question that one may ask is what happens to the donations they receive. We note that our authorities here at the hospitals are frequently summoned to receive such donations from donors. When you enquire about the donated items, they tell you it has been distributed to deserving patients, the same patients who complain that they do not have any,” revealed the source.
Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula, when sought for comment on the matter, first took a swipe at the people who leaked the information to the media. He advised the health workers and the patients to report such matters to those in higher authority rather than the media.
However, it was brought to his attention that maybe some fear being victimised, hence they preferred the media.
He mentioned that they have received some complaints about the said company (catering company). He said there was a point when they were informed that it served food late to the patients and they addressed that problem.
“I would like to advise patients or employees at the hospital to report their concerns to us, not the media. I would make an example with a patient at the same hospital, who did not have a blanket, he called the ministry and I quickly attended to his matter.”
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