Sick woman waits for days

2008-06-23 00:00

A gravely ill woman, who was admitted by doctors at Edendale Hospital on Saturday evening, was finally put in a ward bed late yesterday afternoon after she and her worried family spent the weekend in the outpatients department.

In response to queries about her plight, the KZN Health Department said several hospitals in the province have an acute shortage of beds due to high patient intake exacerbated by HIV/Aids.

The Malinga family of Scottsville took their gravely ill adult daughter to the hospital at about 8 pm on Saturday and doctors admitted her to B ward, a female medical ward.

However, the Malingas were told to wait since there were no beds available then. There were at least three other people waiting at outpatients for admission at the time.

The woman’s condition apparently deteriorated on Sunday evening and she was placed in a wheelchair. Her family said she was left medically unattended the whole of Sunday and was only put on a drip on Sunday night after they complained.

“The treatment is appalling at this hospital; there should be contingency plans in place for patients that need urgent treatment,” said the patient’s sister, Nokuthula.

The patient was admitted by a Dr Dakwe, according to the file, and was prepared for admission by another doctor. She was supposed to be admitted to B ward at about 11.30 pm on Saturday, but staff said there were no beds. Doctors continued to admit patients and those waiting for beds in female medical wards waited for over 48 hours.

A concerned senior medical staff member, who had seen the Malinga family “camping” in the icy corridors since Saturday, told The Witness she did not understand why the woman was not transferred to another ward, as wards E and 5B1 had free beds.

“For a patient to suffer in limbo for 36 hours without proper medical support as a provisional measure is beyond me,” she said.

Following attempts to get the Health Department’s communication staff, hospital PRO Samke Mncube and hospital manager Heather Findlay, to respond, The Witness eventually tracked down an irritable department spokesman Leon Mbangwa.

“Listen, we are very busy with the [National Youth Health] Indaba, a big event, and no one is at the office,” said Mbangwa.

“Why can’t you speak to the relevant people on the ground? It’s public knowledge that we have [a] shortage of beds because of HIV and Aids,” said Mbangwa, adding that he did not believe a patient would be made to wait two days without a bed.

When The Witness revealed proof, he changed his tune: “That’s appalling conduct and we will investigate it. It’s totally unacceptable; health workers who signed an oath cannot conduct themselves like that. [The patients] should have been transferred to other wards or another hospital,” he said.

Following Witness calls to hospital management yesterday, the patient was admitted to Ward 5B1 at 5.45 pm in a critical condition.

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