Acclaimed Zithulele sadly in danger of losing what made it great while patients are the biggest losers
When Zithulele Hospital’s new CEO, Nolubabalo Fatyela, arrived in September 2021 — wielding the Eastern Cape Department of Health rulebook — her management style and decisions caused a considerable amount of conflict as she made it clear that she intended to run the hospital according to the letter of the law.
By Estelle Ellis
In Zithulele, a rural Eastern Cape community where the collective fight against HIV/Aids was being won, the application of strict departmental policy has led to protests, fear and uncertainty as doctors and the community claim that it was harming patients and negatively affecting medical care.
At Zithulele Hospital, a rural Eastern Cape hospital that has become known for remarkable care, people without referral letters are sent away at the gates without being assessed and HIV and TB patients have been sent to ‘clinics that don’t have medications for these patients’. These are the claims that triggered protests at the hospital in June and July, and while these decisions are in line with the Eastern Cape Department of Health policy, this is not what many members of the community want.
By Hoseya Jubase and Maru Attwood
‘We feel like the CEO has taken us 10 years back in 10 months,’ said a doctor of the conflict that has seen Zithulele Hospital’s status as an outstanding district hospital come into peril after the strict application of the Eastern Cape Department of Health’s policy brought conflict and fear to a rural community.
By Maru Attwood and Hoseya Jubase