A Gauteng hospital’s Covid-19 prevention and control measures are being questioned by a family that believe their loved one contracted the virus while he was a patient there.
The family of the late Shupi Peter Mosupi from Brits, North West, want to know why the Mabopane, Gauteng-based Mediclinic Legae hospital has also kept mum regarding changes to his health status.
“It’s because of the trust we have in hospitals that Covid-19 was the least of our worries when we left him there, but look at where we are now. We’re asking ourselves so many questions about how this could have happened in hospital,” said Mosupi’s daughter, Tsholofelo.
“We want to know why we weren’t contacted immediately after he tested positive for Covid-19. We don’t know when exactly that was and want to know why, as his nearest contacts, we weren’t advised to take precautionary measures like isolate and get tested. It’s very strange that we had to lodge a formal complaint as the family before we were invited to come and see him.”
Mosupi said she lodged a complaint on the Mediclinic website after they were left in the dark about her father’s health and could not reach him on his cellphone.
“The following day, we were asked to come and see my father. Surprisingly, when my mother and I got there, a doctor told us we couldn’t see him because he’d tested positive for Covid-19 and, right there, shocked as we were, we were taken to get tested,” she said.
“None of our other family members tested positive, so it would be surprising if the hospital ever argued that my father came in already infected. We cared for him before his hospitalisation, and I washed and dressed the sores on his legs daily. So why would we be spared infection after so much exposure to him?”
Mediclinic could neither deny nor confirm that Mosupi, who was admitted late in June and died in the middle of last month, was infected while under its roof.
The hospital said he was admitted there “as one of many admissions” for management of his chronic condition.
“As per Covid-19 protocols, all patients are admitted as patients under investigation and are transferred to the appropriate ward once their status has been confirmed. As Mr Mosupi was in the window period [two to 14 days] of his infection, we can’t confirm whether it was a community- or hospital-acquired infection,” said Mediclinic Southern Africa’s chief clinical officer Dr Stefan Smuts.
“It’s standard practice to inform a patient directly of any clinical information. Family members are only included in the treatment information if the patient isn’t fully oriented. Mediclinic reporting structures require us to provide daily updates to the national department of health, which is responsible for contact tracking and tracing as part of the follow-up process.”
However, Mosupi’s daughter said the family didn’t receive any message or telephone call from anyone alerting them that they were direct contacts of someone who had tested positive.
She said she had lived in hope and was looking forward to welcoming her father back home. Little did she know that, when she left him at the hospital, it was the last time she would see him.
“My father had a chronic condition and had been in and out of hospital. Although he was weak, we still had hope of having him back home. Covid-19 was the last thing on our minds, especially for someone his age who spent all his time at home. I’d become used to fetching him from hospital and driving him home, but, unfortunately, this time things happened differently,” she said.
“With his heath condition, there was no way he could have survived Covid-19. He was there for a specific treatment, but then Covid-19 finished him off. We believe the virus was definitely something he was free of when he was admitted to that hospital.”
Compounding her frustration, Mosupi said she later found out that her father’s identity document and other papers she needed to obtain a death certificate were missing.
“After a back-and-forth between the hospital and the mortuary, the hospital told us that the documents had been wrapped together with his body. We had to watch the staff from the undertakers open his coffin and search around his body until they found the documents right there at the graveyard during the funeral … that was an experience I will never forget,” she said.
“We aren’t happy with the way Mediclinic handled this whole thing. We have many questions, but no answers to help us find closure.”
The hospital has expressed its willingness to engage with the family.
“Mediclinic Legae is happy to discuss any further feedback directly with the family, as we prioritise patient confidentiality. We extend our sincere condolences to Mr Mosupi’s family and friends on his passing,” said Smuts.