Baby death: neglect probed

2011-04-07 00:00

UMGUNGUNDLOVU health district is investigating allegations that staff at Northdale Hospital did not attempt to save a premature baby, who died in her mother’s arms two hours after birth.

Although district manager May Zuma-Mkhonza was not available for comment yesterday, her assistant Nokuthula Nzimande confirmed that the case was brought to Zuma-Mkhonza’s attention on Tuesday.

This after two e-mails were sent to the hospital and the Health Department head office on the same day for comment. No response was received.

“The manager is investigating. We can’t just comment without getting to the bottom of the matter so when the investigation is concluded a comment will be made available,” said Nzimande.

The Witness reported yesterday that Raquel van der Merwe (20), who was five months pregnant, went to Northdale Hospital with contractions and bleeding.

She said she waited a long time before a gynaecologist came to her assistance, and was told after her baby was born that she would not live more than 15 minutes.

The baby was given to her without being cleaned or wrapped up, and died about two hours later.

Van der Merwe felt some attempt could have been made to save her tiny daughter.

To compound matters, the baby was left with her through the night, after she died, and later Van der Merwe was admitted to the maternity ward, alongside happy mothers with healthy newborns.

Yesterday, a witness to Van der Merwe’s ordeal phoned The Witness explaining how he received a cold shoulder when he appealed to a nurse to help the woman.

Jay Ramdeen said the Health Department should deal with the “pathetic” treatment meted out to vulnerable patients by nurses in government hospitals, and Northdale in particular.

“Seeing that woman bleeding and in pain forced me to approach a nurse, who simply said the patient will be attended to, and that there was nothing wrong with her.

“The way they handled that situation was inhuman and sadly, this is one out of many incidents of this nature at that hospital,” said Ramdeen.

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