Bodies left to rot in wards

2010-07-03 00:00

FAULTY lifts were blamed after 11 bodies were left in general wards at Edendale Hospital for almost two days this week.

Sources at the hospital said nurses and porters could not move the bodies to the hospital mortuary. They said no lifts were working the whole of Wednesday night and all day on Thursday.

The Mkhize family from KwaMnyandu village were horrified to find that the body of their elderly mother, Rose Adnah Mkhize (69), had started to decompose when they went to the hospital on Thursday night. She died of cancer in Ward 4F, which is on the hospital’s fourth floor, at about 2 pm on Wednesday. But her body was only transferred to the basement mortuary at about 7 pm on Thursday.

Nomusa Mkhize (50) said she was in the ward when her mother died. She said she was shocked when she returned to the hospital at about 9 am on Thursday to find that her body was still in the ward.

“I had gone to the hospital to get a notice of death, which our funeral parlour had requested in order to take the body out of hospital.

“I was told that we could not get the document because the body had not been booked into the hospital mortuary,” said Mkhize.

Mkhize’s sister-in-law, who cannot be named because she works for the Health Department, said that at about 5 pm on Wednesday she phoned the hospital and was told that the body was still in the ward and not in the mortuary.

“An official at the mortuary told me that the body had not been brought to their section because there were no operating lifts.

“However, when we arrived at the hospital at about 7 pm with the intention of taking the body to the mortuary ourselves, we found that there was one lift working. The body had been put in a plastic bag and placed in a small room inside the ward.

“As we were busy preparing to take the body, one nurse shouted at us to leave it alone because there were people employed to do the job,” Mkhize’s sister-in-law said.

She said the family only realised that one lift was working when a porter helped them to take the body down to the mortuary in a lift.

“The porter even asked them why the body has not been taken to the mortuary because there was one lift operating,” the sister-in-law said.

Officials in the mortuary told Weekend Witness that doctors have to certify the cause of death and fill in the paperwork, which takes less than a day, before the bodies can be moved. They showed this reporter a list of bodies stuck in different general wards since Wednesday afternoon and only delivered to the mortuary at about 7 pm on Thursday.

“These bodies were also delayed by the faulty lifts,” said the official.

Hospital spokesperson Samke Mncube said there is always an emergency lift available in case the others break down.

She added that the hospital is investigating the matter.

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