Are our hospitals too sick to care? - Northdale

2013-08-28 00:00

MAUREEN Hackland believes Northdale Hospital, which is a feeder hospital to 22 clinics around the city, is too sick to care.

Hackland was shocked when she recently visited her employee, Bhekumuzi Bethwell Zondi, who was admitted at the hospital.

While she understood that it was a state hospital, with limited funds and overworked nurses and doctors, there was no excuse for what she observed over three weeks.

“I am sick to my stomach and disgusted — people no longer see nursing as a calling, but as a job, and don’t seem to care an iota for the people they should be caring for.”

Hackland said Zondi was referred to Northdale by a clinic for a huge abscess on his right arm. “On July 22 I took Zondi to Northdale, where we waited for four hours before he was admitted, to be put on a drip. The waiting room, if you can call it that, had 25 to 30 people in it at any given time, with one toilet for men and one toilet for women; people had waited the whole day to be seen and the casualty doctors were under a lot of pressure.”

A furious Hackland added: “They have the gall to put up a notice on the pillar to say that patients would be treated with dignity and greeted with a smile — absolute drivel; people were virtually comatose, lying on the cold floor, and treated worse than dogs.”

Zondi was eventually admitted and put on an antibiotic drip. The abscess was drained, and left a golf ball sized hole in his arm.

“I was told that he would be on the drip for another four days and the wound dressed.” He was discharged after two days and suffered a stroke at home that night.

Hackland said her friend rushed Zondi to Northdale hospital and had to beg two ambulance personnel to help her get him admitted.

They found Zondi the following day with a diaper that had not been changed. He had apparently not been given food or anything to drink the whole day.

“It was a miracle that Zondi survived after receiving such poor medical care from the hospital,” she said.

Zondi’s 24-year-old son Charles said his father was discharged from hospital last week. He believes his father is now mentally unstable and blames the fact that he was not treated on time.

However, Health Department head Dr Sibongile Zungu said while some of the issues raised were true, others were not. “As a result of overcrowding, doctors discharge some patients if they feel they can manage at home or are not critically ill.

“The delay in his operation was because doctors had instructed him not to eat. However, he ate an apple that morning and to avoid complications, the operation was cancelled.”

While acknowledging that the department faced challenges with regard to conditions at state hospitals, Zungu said some people “over-reacted and were emotional” when presenting their experiences.

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