Edendale Hospital’s silver lining

2008-07-30 00:00

WE have all read and heard many negative stories about Edendale Hospital. The cases range from neglect of patients to outright medical malpractice. There are stories of patients dying on benches without receiving attention, a lack of doctors, a shortage of medicines, stories of patients being chased away without being given treatment, verbal abuse — the list is endless.

I have also witnessed negative incidents first-hand. I knew a patient who became sick after swabs were left inside her body after surgery. I also witnessed a nursing sister harassing a very sick woman.

In Zulu, the words the sister uttered were: “Uhamba nabani?” This means, “Who is accompanying you?”

The response was: “Ngihamba ngedwa (I am all by myself).”

The nursing sister replied: “Njegokuba unje uhamba wedwa,” which showed her shock at the woman being alone in her condition.

This exchange was made in the presence of a number of other patients and I felt it was humiliating for the patient. Patients do not deserve such remarks, especially from someone who is expected to give hope and courage to a sick person. Instead, she was made to feel worthless and her self-esteem was destroyed.

While I agree that all these stories are bad and should not be happening, I also think that every cloud has a silver lining. People must know that there is also a good side to Edendale Hospital.

My granddaughter was involved in a car accident and, as a result, I had to pay four visits to the hospital before her complete recovery. The attention and treatment we received on all of these visits, the last of which was this month, was superb.

During the course of my visits, I had to go to several sections of the hospital, including the administration department where I collected the hospital file, to surgical outpatients, the X-ray department and the orthopaedic clinic. Lastly, I had to collect medication from the dispensary.

In all of these departments I was forced to join long queues. Despite the queues, I was impressed during all four visits by the positive attitude and care shown by staff members working there. Whether they were doctors, nurses or general assistants, they all worked together as a team.

When we finally went to the dispensary to collect medicines, I was shocked to see an extremely long queue of people sitting on benches waiting for their medicines. I estimated that there must have been 70 people. “You’ll never make it,” I thought to myself and I was tempted to give my file to a nurse who stays in my area and ask her to collect the medication for me at a later stage.

However, it soon became apparent that the queue was moving quickly. Inside the dispensary itself, there were about eight staff members taking files and dispensing medicines, and there was a gentleman at hand to make sure that no-one jumped the queue. It was strictly first come, first served.

That day, I had arrived at the hospital at about 10.30 am. The whole process was finished by 3.30 pm. The waiting never bothered me because I saw that the staff were on their toes and giving the best service that they could to the patients.

I wondered: “Is this the same Edendale Hospital that has generated so many negative stories?” The answer is “yes”.

I think that perhaps the problem in the hospital lies in the wards and with the medical outpatients department. These staff need to learn from the surgical departments.

I want people to know there is a “better” side to Edendale hospital. While criticising the bad, the good also needs to be admired. To those who are committed to their work, I say, “Well done and keep it up.” However, I want to ask those who treat people badly to change their unacceptable attitudes and learn from others who seem to get it right.

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