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WATCH: Khayelitsha hospital’s state exposed

Desperate Khayelitsha District Hospital patients pictured laying on the ground due to a shortage of beds. At least 20 patients have been squeezed into a room that can accommodate nine people. Picture: Supplied

Desperate Khayelitsha District Hospital patients pictured laying on the ground due to a shortage of beds. At least 20 patients have been squeezed into a room that can accommodate nine people. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 13, 2022

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CAPE TOWN - Amid shocking conditions at the Khayelitsha District Hospital (KDH), a shortage of beds and resources have led to the elderly being ventilated while lying on the floor, with some even being made to sleep on the ground overnight.

This once again brings the hospital under the spotlight, after the 2018 Sigogo petition in Parliament, which dealt with an alleged cover-up regarding reported maladministration, nepotism, fraud, poor working conditions and victimisation of employees.

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It asserted that the hospital’s management had not adhered to departmental policies regarding staffing the hospital.

The Cape Times is in possession of a video and pictures showing the elderly huddled together on the floor, using blankets to keep warm while being strapped to ventilators in the hospital’s asthma room.

Some spent the night sitting upright on chairs under the same conditions.

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A source said more than 20 people were sharing a room that had capacity for only nine.

Another staff member, who spoke on condition that he remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals, said the problem of patients sleeping on the floor first arose when Mfuleni patients, who used to be assisted in Eerste River, were directed to be assisted in Khayelitsha.

“I don’t want to lie, patients do sleep on the floor. Mfuleni patients used to go to Eerste River Hospital, but from 2016 or 2017, the director's office changed that. Now, Mfuleni patients are directed to KDH (Khayelitsha District Hospital), and again, they did not address the issue of staffing. You can’t give us more patients and not address the issue of staffing.

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“On the issue of beds, the hospital has very few beds to accommodate the high number of patients and that is why you find patients sleeping on the floor, because there are shortages of beds.

“There are more patients coming in, and there is a shortage of staff.

“This has been happening for years. If you visit the hospital more, especially on the weekend, Mondays and Tuesdays, you would see patients sleeping on the floor.”

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He lambasted the leadership style of the current chief executive at the hospital, which he described as “autocratic”.

“We raised the issue of patients sleeping on the floor a long time ago, even with the previous chief executive and the current one – nothing has changed.

“The staff are really complaining about this,” he said.

Western Cape government communications officer for the Khayelitsha Eastern Sub-Structure, Abulele Dyasi, said on Tuesday the hospital had 200% occupancy in the asthma and trolley areas, with the situation being similar across the metro.

It meant that waiting times in the Emergency Centre were longer than usual, which put staff under immense pressure to treat the increased number of patients.

“Khayelitsha District Hospital’s Emergency Centre comprises numerous sections including major asthma and major trolleys for patients with respiratory symptoms.

“Due to the surge experienced after the December 2021 holidays, we have been overwhelmed with the number of patients for these two sections.

Desperate Khayelitsha District Hospital patients pictured laying on the ground due to a shortage of beds.

“The asthma room can accommodate nine patients and does not have beds as it is a waiting and observation area with oxygen ports.

“Patients are triaged according to severity of their condition and then treated and admitted or discharged. The major trolley area accommodates patients who cannot sit on a chair while waiting to be admitted or discharged. This area caters for a maximum of 16 patients,” Dyasi said.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary Baxolise Mali said the union would meet with the hospital’s management over the “unacceptable situation”.

“I suspect the story about the maladministration, fraud, and nepotism had to do with the issues which Nehawu took to the National Council of Provinces NCOP in 2018 which led to the removal of the then CEO, but since then we have not picked up on those things happening.

“It is correct that patients are made to sleep on floors because the Khayelitsha District Hospital really does not have the capacity to handle the number of patients because of a shortage of beds and under-staffing as a result of the decision which was taken directing patients from Mfuleni to no longer go to Eerste River Hospital but to Khayelitsha District Hospital,” said Mali.

Cape Times

Related Topics:

corruption

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