Northdale Hospital gears up for New Year casualties

2013-12-30 00:00

THE Northdale Hospital emergency wing was packed to overflowing on Boxing Day, testament to the festive mayhem of drunken brawls and road accidents.

The hospital said it had extra staff and contingency plans in place but each year, despite the best laid plans, the number of people injured through assaults and accidents and who arrive at the emergency section, seems to grow exponentially, putting a severe strain on resources. The staff are now getting ready for the aftermath of the New Year celebrations and they are keeping their fingers crossed that the numbers will be much lower than on Boxing Day.

The Witness received several complaints from patients who had waited more than eight hours before receiving attention.

Chief matron on the day Chumpa Hutheram apologised to patients who had to wait, saying there were a number of cases that needed extensive work and this took up the time of staff in the emergency section.

There were six overdoses, several very bad assaults, an emergency cardiac case where staff worked long and hard to resuscitate the patient, and a case of sexual assault which, due to the sensitivity of the matter, had to be treated with caution and care. Adding to the tally were a stream of people injured in accidents.

Particularly distressed was the family of Isaac Bhengu, who collapsed at 4 am on the morning of Boxing Day. He was coughing blood and his legs were swollen. By 9 am, his family had him in the emergency section but he was only admitted as a patient more than 10 hours later.

For his distressed sister Nhlanhla, who is a member of the nursing profession, what happened in the emergency section was unacceptable. Nhlanhla believed that people were abusing the ambulance system. She felt that people had learnt that if they arrived by ambulance, they would get treated first and that those who came by private vehicles had to wait. “Had we known, we would have called for an ambulance to pick up my brother,” she said.

Hutheram said she could not comment on abuse of the ambulance system as she had no proof of this. She added that patients were screened for the seriousness of their illness and emergency cases were then given priority.

Nhlanhla felt there should have been nurses checking the conditions of those waiting, to see if there were others that needed to be prioritised.

By Friday all was back to normal at Northdale Hospital.

Now staff are preparing for the casualties of the New Year revelries.

“We’ve just tried our best to save the life of a young man who, despite our efforts died, and this was all because of a fight over a cellphone. Sad things happen at this time of the year and through it all, the staff in our emergency and trauma units really do work hard and remain dedicated,” Hutheram added.

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