A NURSE at the privately-owned Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo who was captured on CCTV taking a picture of a memo detailing charges for Covid-19 patients admitted to the institution has resigned.
The hospital had ordered the nurse to explain his actions in writing.
The memo which is said to have been pinned on one of the hospital’s wards went viral on social media on Thursday and the hospital management conducted internal surveillance to discover who shared it with the public.
Xolani Sibanda was fingered as having leaked it.
Dated July 1, 2020, the memo from credit control to the hospital’s departments, advised staff that Covid-19 patients attended at the casualty ward would be required to pay US$60, US$3 000 for general ward and critical patients needing admission in the Intensive Care Unit will have to part with US$5 000.
The hospital’s human resources manager only identified as Tembo, wrote to Mr Sibanda, demanding to know why he had taken photos of the memorandum that has since gone viral.
“It has been brought to the attention of the management that while you were rendering your services on the 1st of July 2020 in the high dependency unit at 10 PM, you were captured on the closed-circuit television camera taking a photograph of an internal memorandum, that was put on the staff notice board which is located at the nurses’ station using your cellphone,” reads Tembo’s letter.
“A review of the entire hospital footage was done and it shows that you were the only individual who photographed the confidential document on that day. May you explain in writing why you took a photograph of the document that is strictly meant (for) internal purposes. The picture of the document is currently circulating on social media platforms and you are therefore required to submit your written explanation and show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.”
Sibanda immediately resigned accusing the hospital authorities of targeting him.
He said there is no evidence that he circulated the picture on social media as the communication was publicly posted.
“That notice was pasted in the public, it’s just unfortunate that where I was there were cameras. But it was bound to come out. I took the picture because I never thought there was anything sinister in doing so. Everyone was talking about that memorandum at the hospital. I was not charged; I was meant to go for a hearing. To avoid victimisation, I resigned to save myself,” he said.
Sibanda declined to further comment saying he was receiving unnecessary limelight.
Comments could not be obtained from management at Mater Dei Hospital as they were said to be in meetings.
Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said the matter had not come to his attention but investigations will be conducted once the ministry gets the necessary information.
Commenting on the cost of Covid-19 treatment at the Roman Catholic-owned private hospital, public health activist and executive director of Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) Itai Rusike said medical facilities should be sensitive to communities they serve. “The Covid-19 response must apply the principles of universal health coverage and multi-sectoral collaboration that should include private health institutions. No one should face financial barriers that prevent access to appropriately prioritised testing or treatment,” said Rusike.
He said the hospital should also abide by World Health Organisation guidelines.
Rusike said the Government should take action to ensure that private hospitals abide by international guidelines.
“The WHO has recommended that all user fees for all health care should be suspended at least for the period of the pandemic and entitlement to health care should be made universal and unconditional regardless of the ability to pay. We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to provide practical support to implement this advice,” said Rusike.