Bamalete Lutheran in crisis as P16m goes missing

Bamalete Lutheren Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Bamalete Lutheren Hospital PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Workers are going unpaid, patients are being fed substandard food and medicines are running short at Bamalete Lutheran Hospital where a recent audit could find no trace of P16 million which disappeared from the hands of management.

Government gives the hospital a grant of more than P14 million every year. This week, Mmegi learnt that once the pride of Balete and a magnet for patients from all over Greater Gaborone, Bamalete Lutheran Hospital (BLH) is a shadow of its former self.

Highly-placed sources said in the midst of the administrative and financial crisis, eight doctors threw in the towel last year, as well as a radiologist. Workers claim they are owed up to P3 million in cumulative unpaid salaries, with some of these amounts going back to 2010. One employee, according to authoritative sources, is owed P202,000 in salary arrears. Mmegi is informed that after years of late payments and salary arrears, disgruntled employees have since written to the Office of the President and the board pleading for intervention.  A Deloitte audit handed to the board last October, paints a picture of gross maladministration at the hospital. At least P16 million covering 120 transactions could not be accounted for.  “The board had wanted the audit report to be shared with the workers, but management refused,” an insider told Mmegi on condition of anonymity. The troubles have also rocked the upper echelons at the hospital, with two members of management still on suspension. BLH CEO, Moagi Mmitsi and School of Nursing principal Martha Mothibe were suspended last year

“The board is negotiating for mutual separation from them,” revealed insiders.

A hospital superintendent engaged at the hospital last year was given six months probation. The board refused to confirm him after this period and the candidate has since left BLH.

With the financial situation at the hospital declining, it is reported that eight doctors resigned last December, leaving the hospital with only four. The hospital has since appointed four other doctors on a temporary basis. A radiologist also threw in the towel. The situation at the hospital is now affecting patients, who are suffering from a shortage of quality food and medicine.

“We were fed low quality food, tea without milk, tasteless porridge and other budget cuts. The hospital staff also keeps making excuses about necessary medicines. It’s clear there is a crisis, but for some of us, this hospital is what is accessible to us,” a former patient said. Contacted for a comment, the BLH board chair, Phenyo Segokgo declined to confirm or comment on issues raised in the audit. “We are working on finding ways to implement recommendations of the audit. The board has requested money (from government) to clear all arrears owed to staff by April. The money we had was used to pay auditors and other things. We had engaged consultants to help with strategies. I am aware that workers wanted the hospital to be handed over to government but there is no such negotiation going on,” Segokgo said. He said while doctors had quit, BLH would ensure that the four who have been brought in on a temporary basis, are pursued for permanent employment. He said the hospital was awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health and Wellness to employ the doctors.

The board chair blamed the shortage of medicines on suppliers. “The suppliers are also disappointing us in terms of bringing medication on time. We are working around the clock to resolve this issue. We have also heard about complaints from patients about long queues. These were mainly caused by a shortage of doctors and the board has addressed this.” Government has been funding BLH since the 1970s under a grant agreement for recurrent expenditure, which includes the procurement of medical equipment.

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