Workers at Prof ZK Mathews Hospital in Barkly West picketed at the entrance of the hospital and called for the CEO to be fired as they accused him of being ’incompetent’.
WORKERS at Prof ZK Mathews Hospital in Barkly West picketed at the entrance of the hospital on Wednesday and Thursday and called for the CEO, Johannes Koopman, to be fired as they accused him of being “incompetent”.
The workers complained that the facility, which was opened in 2008, is collapsing and claimed that the CEO was not doing anything about it.
The workers burnt tyres and tree branches on one side of the entrance to the hospital and allow emergency vehicles and patients to use the other side.
They said they will continue to picket at the hospital until the Northern Cape Department of Health hears them out and appoints a “competent” CEO to run the hospital.
The police were on the scene and also monitored the R31 road to ensure that the situation does not escalate.
The workers complained about a shortage of staff, a poor drainage system, a collapsing ceiling, broken windows, no working tools, no PPE and no oxygen, as well as about old beds and chairs for the staff and patients.
The workers have been on a go-slow since Monday, with the hope that the department will react.
A delegation from the department’s district office met with the workers on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) shop steward Kgalalelo Maketso said staff have been using the same work tools and equipment since 2008 and there have been no “upgrades”.
“We have to use our own cloth masks at work. The staff does not have the proper cleaning material and have to keep on changing buckets for the leaking roofs to prevent flooding in the hospital.”
“We experience fear in our patients’ eyes on a daily basis when they die due to lack of oxygen. We are helpless and have to go through the trauma of watching the patients give their last breath.”
Maketso added that patients are falling off the old, rickety chairs and risk being injured on the old beds that often cave in.
She explained that workers will take turns to picket and treat patients because they are “not fighting the community but the system”.
“The burned-out staff continue to resign but no one cares to fill the vacant posts. We are a drained skeleton staff consisting of a few nurses and assistant nurses who go beyond their scope of work,” said Maketlo.
“We learnt that the CEO has been lying to the department that everything was going smoothly at the institution.”
The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said they had “fruitful deliberations” with the management and staff of the facility On Thursday.
“We resolved to schedule a follow-up meeting on Friday (today) to deal with outstanding issues,” said Majaha.