Patients are being given medical treatment and having drips administered while on benches, in wheelchairs and on the floor at Maritzburg’s Northdale Hospital, which is experiencing a dire shortage of beds.
The relative of a man (52) admitted to the hospital last Tuesday (4 January) after having a stroke told News24 that what she saw at the hospital was shocking and dehumanising. She said when they got to the hospital he was given a wheelchair to sit in and told to join the queue for bed allocation.
She said she was furious, and the next day, started demanding answers. “His whole body started going numb, because they put him on a drip while he was seated in the wheelchair. I do not believe that is how they should treat people who are in need of medical assistance.” She said the staff told her there was a shortage of beds within the hospital and there was nothing they could do.
Her uncle is still in the casualty ward, she told News24. “We were told that he needs to go for a CT-scan, and they can only do that after he is in a ward. Now there is no bed available in any of the wards, which means he has to wait.
“What is sad is that his [condition after the stroke] is now getting worse. When he got to the hospital he was able to talk, but now he is not even responding. He has been sitting in a wheelchair for days while waiting for a bed,” she said.
Apparently there are beds in other wards but they have no mattresses. The casualty department however, is the worst. “I cried when I saw elderly people, on drips, sleeping on the floor on cardboard, unable to even talk. There was another woman seated, holding her drip, falling into unconsciousness.
“At first, I thought these were people waiting for transport, but I was shocked to find they were patients,” she said.
KZN DA spokesperson on Health Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL said the bed shortages at Northdale were shocking. “It’s not ideal for patients to be treated while sitting on benches, in a wheelchair or on the floor. This also speaks to a lack of management and oversight.”
Viranna said the issue was not new and that the department was aware that the hospital was too small to accommodate residents from the northern suburbs and other nearby areas.
“We have been calling for an upgrade and new wards. A feasibility study [needs] to be done for the building of a new hospital in Pietermaritzburg to help take the strain off Northdale and Edendale Hospital.” He added that in the past 15 years, only one new hospital had been built in KZN: Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital, in KwaMashu, Durban.
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