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Minister to take Letaba Hospital Management to task

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Following the death of a patient, Faith Malatji at Letaba Hospital near Tzaneen last week as the perceived result of load shedding by Eskom, Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, paid the institution a visit on Friday.
In a telephonic conversation afterwards Motsaoaledi told Polokwane Observer that his in loco investigation revealed that one patient passed away during the period in which the generator, and thereafter the uninterrupted power supply (UPS), failed.
“The unavailability of electricity was not as a result of load shedding, it was because of a fault from the pole supplying electricity from Eskom. The responsible personnel at the hospital however assumed that it was as result of load shedding and that the power supply will be restored automatically.
“The generator kicked in and there was enough diesel to keep it running for hours, where after the UPS took over for more than two hours. When the UPS in the intensive care unit, where the patient was treated, also ran out, the patient was transferred to the theatre where there was another UPS, but was declared dead on arrival,” Motsoaledi stated.
He informed that the Director General of Health last year instructed all heads of department in writing to ensure that measures were in place to ensure that power shedding will not affect hospitals. “On 18 January this year I personally wrote to all the MECs informing them that Eskom cannot exempt hospitals from load shedding and that they should ensure that there are working generators at all hospitals. I also developed a check list that had to be used weekly and on 7 May this year the department’s Director of Engineering Services forwarded it to all managers. I was therefore completely shocked when I learnt of the allegations regarding the power failure. It is clear that there has been a management problem at the hospital and I will ensure that a thorough investigation be done and the officials responsible, be taken to task,” Motsoaledi concluded.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) Limpopo said it will assist the family of Malatji, who according to the DA, passed away when the generators allegedly ran out of diesel after load shedding by Eskom.
During a media briefing on Monday, Langa Bodlani, DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Health, said the party will demand that a post mortem be conducted by an independent pathologist to establish the cause and time of death of Malatji and assist her family to access legal recourse and ensure that justice is done.
The DA will also demand that the provincial government hold the hospital’s officials accountable for the death of the patients and will engage in a series of protest actions until the family’s demands are met.
The DA’s initial claim that two patients had died stems from a source at the hospital who reported that a patient admitted with diabetes had died while Malatji was receiving treatment after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage.
Yesterday (Wednesday) the party issued a media release to the effect that a woman, Merlyne Mabunda had informed them of the death of her son at Letaba Hospital on Friday. Mabunda’s son was, at the time of the power outage, on life support after a heart attack.

Story: BARRY VILJOEN
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