JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa says she’s asked the Statistician-General’s office to assist her department with a tally of all the mentally ill patients who were transferred from Life Healthcare Esidimeni facilities.
Ramokgopa confirmed on Wednesday that 20 unlawful NGOs were still housing about 700 patients, while seven facilities have been shut down so far since the Health Ombudsman released his report into the Esidimeni tragedy.
At least 100 patients died after the transfers last year.
Ramokgopa says Stats SA’s Pali Lehohla has provided her office with two officials who have been given a mandate to help account for all the psychiatric patients transferred from Life Esidimeni.
She says her department has encountered problems with finding the relatives of some of the patients who have already been moved.
“The main problem is the records. The contacts that we have for each patient is not reachable or the address is not there.”
Ramokgopa urged the families of those who have loved ones in the facilities or NGOs but have not received communication by officials to make contact with her department as soon as possible.
MORE PATIENTS MOVED
Several more mentally ill patients have been transferred to the Solomon Stix Morewa Memorial Hospital in Johannesburg from NGOs which were found to have been operating unlawfully by the health ombudsman.
MEC Ramokgopa’s announcement brings the number of unlawful NGOs which are still operating to 20, with a total of 763 mentally ill patients still being housed at these facilities.
Ramokgopa said after moving 27 patients to the Solomon Stix Morewa Hospital last week, a further 28 moved to this facility on Tuesday.
“We are quite encouraged that we have worked very well with all the parties involved.”
Listen: Over 700 psychiatric patients still housed under illegal NGOs
The facility’s CEO Zubair Coovadia said his staff are more than capable to take care of these patients.
“Our team of healthcare professionals is made up of qualified nursing staff.”
Coovadia said they are busy upgrading the hospital’s recreational facilities, which will help in the rehabilitation process.
WATCH: Life Eisidimeni patients transferred to private health care facilities
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)