Coronavirus: Nurses at Sandton hospital raise concerns over safety, as union considers legal action

A general view of Mediclinic Morningside in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)
A general view of Mediclinic Morningside in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

Nurses at Morningside Mediclinic in Sandton, Johannesburg, have raised concerns regarding exposure to Covid-19 and the response by the hospital's management.

LIVE | All the latest coronavirus and lockdown updates

This is according to the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), which will now be consulting its legal team regarding whether the hospital took enough precautions to protect nurses from the virus.

The hospital, however, has maintained that it is taking stringent measures to protect staff and patients.

Mediclinic confirmed that 12 staff members, including nine healthcare workers, had tested positive for Covid-19 this week.

Management had since taken precautionary measures and said it would disinfect certain areas of the hospital.

Adequate measures

Denosa spokesperson Bongani Mazibuko could not yet determine if these measures were adequate to protect nurses, as the hospital had not been forthcoming with information.

"Denosa is consulting with its legal department on the best way forward, as Morningside Mediclinic management is not coming forth with information so the Union can determine the adequacy of measures being taken to protect Denosa members and all nurses at large within the institution," Masibuko said,

"Healthcare workers are at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, and their safety must be upheld by provision of the necessary equipment, like personal protective equipment (PPE), to ensure they are able to continue fighting - their safety is our safety.

"We are concerned as to how the workers contracted the virus, and the steps taken by management (which have obviously failed in this instance) to prevent infection of workers," Mazibuko said.

Denosa has been advocating for nurses to be provided with adequate PPE when doing their jobs.

"We need to bear in mind that Sandton and Bedfordview are the epicentre of this disease and, as such, institutions private and public should take extra precautions in safeguarding their employees against this virus. It is also very important that training in the use of PPE be given to nurses," Mazibuko said.


In an unrelated statement on Wednesday, Mediclinic maintained that the safety of patients, staff and doctors was a "number one priority".

"Mediclinic has intensified both internal and external processes guiding our response. In accordance with our stringent protocols, Mediclinic immediately reviewed the situation to identify, as a matter of urgency, all staff, doctors and patients potentially exposed.

"The National Department of Health also has firm processes in place governing contact tracing of those exposed to a positive individual," it said.

Mediclinic added that it had acted swiftly to mitigate risks.

"We can assure the community that we have established procedures relating to staff exposure, the risk thereof and testing."

Mediclinic said it would embark on a three-day risk assessment as part of the containment plan. This includes the closing of new admissions to the hospital, unless for emergencies, as well as deep sanitisation.

"Mediclinic has implemented Human Resources policies and procedures to address healthcare worker exposure, testing and infection, including the appropriate use of PPE."

It added that staff had been provided with PPE to prevent spreading the virus.

"Mediclinic has implemented firm measures in all our hospitals to reduce the risks in our facilities, such as temporarily suspending visiting hours, as well as terminating all elective cases to reduce the movement of people during lockdown," it added.

Mediclinic did not respond to specific questions sent by News24 on Wednesday.

Stay healthy and entertained during the national lockdown. Sign up for our Lockdown Living newsletter. Register and manage your newsletters in the new News24 app by clicking on the Profile tab

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
What are your thoughts on the possibility of having permanent Stage 2 or 3 load shedding?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'll take that over constant schedule changes
13% - 1404 votes
Why are we normalising Eskom’s mess?
72% - 7752 votes
I've already found alternative ways of powering my home/business
15% - 1607 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.