Hospitals turn away man with chopped off hand

Johannesburg - A 21-year-old man, who needed emergency surgery after his hand had been chopped off, was turned away by two state hospitals due to a public service strike, paramedics said on Friday.

"In a case such as this, time is of the essence as the tissue can die," said ER24 spokesperson Werner Vermaak.

"Paramedics found a man in Vereeniging with his hand chopped off; the hand was placed on ice and the patient had to be transported to a hospital for emergency surgery to reattach the hand."

The man was turned away by both Charlotte Maxeke and Chris Hani Baragwanath hospitals, where striking health workers severely disrupted services.

"ER24 paramedics had to airlift a man from Vereeniging to Steve Biko hospital in Pretoria when two major specialist hospitals were closed in Johannesburg," said Vermaak.

He said ER24 had since not been able to get through to Steve Biko hospital for an update on the man's condition.

Argument over woman

Police spokesperson Warrant-Officer Aubrey Moopeloa said the man's friend chopped his hand off with a panga in Sharpeville during an argument over a girlfriend.

Vermaak said the strike was placing the so-called "golden hour" under threat.

"In the past few years, paramedics are trying to stress the importance of the Golden Hour where a patient needs to be seen by a specialist within 60 minutes of his or her injury."

He said ER24 had been turned away from Charlotte Maxeke, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Helen Joseph, Tambo Memorial and Ernest Oppenheimer hospitals.

"Since the strikes and riots broke out at various hospitals across the country, paramedics are struggling to enter hospital grounds to hand patients over.

"In certain areas ambulances were allowed in, but could not hand the patient over as there were limited staff and the patient had to be transferred to another facility," said Vermaak.

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