Cash-strapped Mpilo Central Hospital has reportedly splashed about $20 000 on cooling systems and laptops for its directors while it is reeling from an acute shortage of drugs and other medical essentials.
This comes at a time when the referral hospital was reportedly running without oxygen tanks, vital for assisting patients with breathing complications.
Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Lindiwe Mlilo confirmed disbursing the cash on computers and cooling systems for the hospital’s top directors including her office.
Although Mlilo refused to shed light on the amounts involved, NewsDay has it on good authority that the installation could have cost about $20 000.
She, however, insisted the money had come from the hospital’s budget for office fittings and equipment.
“It is true that air-conditioning systems were installed (but) that was done through money from the vote for office fittings and equipment. It was part of the annual budget and we did not take money for drugs or other things to do that,” Mlilo claimed.
The purchase of the laptops and installation of air-conditioning systems has reportedly riled staff at the hospital, which until recently was said to be sustaining its operations through donations.
“At one time, we did not have adequate supplies of antibiotics and even gloves but the authorities are busy splashing money on air-conditioning systems. It’s a question of priorities,” said an irate employee at the hospital.
Recently, patients at the casualty section of the 1 000-bed referral centre demonstrated against hospital staff for delaying attending to them as service delivery continues to take a nose-dive.
It is also understood the tender system at the hospital was not above board as some medical supplies such as drip and oxygen were in some cases more costly than in private pharmacies.
A litre of drip costs $10 at the hospital whereas private pharmacies charged $10 for the same.
Indications were that installing an air-conditioning system in a standard office costs on average $1 250 while a laptop costs as much as $800 per unit.
Some junior employees questioned the wisdom of installing expensive luxury gadgets in top management’s offices when the hospital at times runs out of essential drugs and gloves.
They also argued that the amount spent on top management’s luxuries was equivalent to salaries for over 50 nurses in a single month. On average nurses are paid $200 per month.
Government was also reportedly losing several thousands of dollars in inflated tenders for drugs among other needs at the institution.
The hospital is now a pale shadow of its former self. Mpilo Central Hospital was highly regarded in southern Africa in the 1990s.