State of Northdale, Fort Napier hospitals shocks MPLs

2012-08-29 00:00

CHAOS in the Northdale Hospital admissions section and foul odours and dirt in the Fort Napier mortuary shocked KZN lawmakers yesterday.

They were more outraged when a senior manager at Northdale could not answer basic questions about the hospital.

The KZN Legislature’s health port­folio committee paid a surprise visit to Northdale.

There they found an outdated manual filing system, overcrowding and a lack of signs to guide patients.

The chairperson of the portfolio committee, Lydia Johnson, said the manager should have had reports about the different departments, so it was baffling that she did not have a clue.

Pastor Vusi Dube (ANC) said the official did not know that the hospital was still using a manual filing system.

She was unable to tell them how many pharmacists she had in the hospital.

“There’s a serious influx and I feel sorry for the nurses because … patients are coming from all directions,” Dube added.

MPL Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi (Minority Front) said: “There was confusion. It was like a maze.”

She said she heard patients screaming “we’ve been squashed” and others didn’t know where to go.

Committee member Mark Steele of the Democratic alliance said of the Fort Napier Mortuary that there were problems with the design, construction and maintenance — especially the drainage and ventilation.

“I’ve never been to a mortuary that smells as appalling as that one,” he said.

Dube said he could not step inside the mortuary because of the foul odour.

“I almost vomited,” he said.

“It shows no respect to our people. To allow someone to come see their loved ones in such a place. It’s not right.”

Steele said the committee also identified problems with staffing, staff discipline and job descriptions.

Thakur-Rajbansi said there were bodies waiting for forensic tests to be done and there was also an “unknown category” — bodies waiting to be finger-printed.

She said she suspected that bodies were being left to decompose.

Committee members commented on the bloodstains on the floor.

After the site visits the portfolio committee summoned district officials to answer for some of the shortfalls that they had founds.

The Department of Health said it would address the issues that were presented to it.

• gabisile.ngcobo@witness.co.za

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