A nurse, security guard and two doctors implicated in tying 76-year-old Martha Marais to a bench at the Mamelodi Day Hospital have been put on special leave, after video footage showing her tied up went viral. The Times reports that Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku visited the Marais family on Sunday.
“We have done our preliminary investigation and we have received reports. The reports have revealed four individuals who were involved and who are on special leave pending their suspension,” Masuku said. The report says, according to Masuku, the investigation identified a number of challenges regarding how Marais was treated as well as capacity issues relating to management and infrastructure.
According to the department, two doctors, a nurse and a security guard were served with letters asking for representations on why they should not be suspended. They have, in the meantime, been put on special leave.
“After that we will be entering into a full-blown investigation, which will be independent. We welcome the involvement of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to do their own investigation which will hopefully correlate what we find,” Masuku said in the report. He said the implicated health workers needed to be held accountable.
“We have done a preliminary redress with the family… we are going to continue to give psychological and social support to the family because it is traumatic and something that should not be done to a human being, especially people who come to our facilities for help.”
“We are committed to making sure that we change things around for our people in Gauteng and to also help our staff members with the difficulties they face… They work very hard and I think they feel that we don’t appreciate those who are putting extra effort.”
Asked why the sickly Marias, was cuffed under the metal benches, Masuku said according to the preliminary report an incident had occurred that prompted the medical staff to tie her up. “I am not saying what they did was right, I merely stating what is in the preliminary reports.”
According to a Pretoria News report, Masuku did however admit that there were more dignified and less inhumane ways to restrict a violent patient. He mentioned injection of high schedule drugs opioids and also using restrainers on a stretcher.
Meanwhile the Marais family has opened a charge of assault against the hospital at the Mamelodi East Hospital and the HRC will also be helping the family open a lawsuit against the department, seeking financial compensation.
The report says Marias was discharged on Saturday and is awaiting her results. She was in good spirits at the family house in Eersterust and flashed numerous smiles. Family spokesperson Virginia Keppler said that Martha was still traumatised and had flashbacks.
The investigation is scheduled to take a month.
Masuku acknowledged a number of problems at the hospital, including low staff morale, says an Eyewitness News report. Masuku said there are protocols to deal with patients who may become agitated or aggressive. “There are ways which we can calm them down using different methods. We also do have a protocol that talks about restraining but not in that manner and it should be within protecting the dignity of the patient.”
The report says the department also received a number of complaints from the community saying the hospital was notorious for patient abuse.
Civil rights movement #NotInMyName has called on newly appointed Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to urgently intervene at the “notorious” hospital, says an IoL report. #NotInMyName secretary general Themba Masango said the Mamelodi Hospital was notorious for poor treatment of patients. “We hope that the new health minister intervenes urgently to fix the horrors at this hospital,” Masango said.
“We will not sit back and watch our senior citizens being abused by the very people who are employed to take care of them. We call on all forward thinking Mamelodians and people in surrounding areas to stand up and condemn this inhumane treatment of our people at the Mamelodi ‘Death’ Hospital,” Masango said.
The report says just hours into his appointment as Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize expressed shock over the ill-treatment of Marais. Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja said Mkhize and Masuku have “expressed outraged” at the incident.