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Hospital boss allegedly 'forces' clerk to work despite Covid-19 symptoms

Image: Jozef Polc/123rf.com

A clerk at Nessie Knight Hospital in Qumbu, Eastern Cape, alleges that she was threatened by the hospital's CEO Nozabalisa Nondaba when she wanted to test for Covid-19.

The clerk in the outpatient unit, who requested to remain anonymous, said on Thursday last week she had flu symptoms but decided to go to work.

"When I got to work, I felt weak and not even the flu medication was helping. I told my supervisor that I wanted to see a doctor as I suspected I had Covid-19 symptoms.

"I left for my place because my colleagues were also panicking. When I was at home I called the infection control nurse asking him to come screen me. He reported to the CEO who called, telling me to come back to work or I will get leave without pay," she said.

She said she tried to explain to Nondaba that she was not feeling well but that fell on deaf ears.

"Even though I understand that you're not supposed to walk around if you suspect that you might be infected with the virus, I forced my self to walk to her office just for her to see I was truly not feeling well. She told me to wait for someone who will screen me but in the meantime I should go back to work.

"I could not understand because we both did not know what was happening to me and continuing to work was going to put my colleagues and patients at risk. That is when I decided to go back [home] to self isolate. I called the hospital doctor to screen me."

The clerk was visited by three doctors from the hospital who after screening her said she had Covid-19 symptoms, and that she needed a test.

"I called the infection control nurse again and asked him to test me but he told me that the hospital does not not have testing kits. That is when I called my medical aid and they organised for me to be transported to Kokstad private hospital which us 126.3km away. I was fetched by an ambulance and have been quarantined since then. I have tested and still waiting for my results."

She said she lodged a complaint by calling the call centre and would follow up on it when she is fit to do so.

Nondaba said she was not allowed to speak to the media. She said she can only respond via the provincial health spokesperson, Judy Ngoloyi.

Ngoloyi said in terms of the law no one can be denied a chance to be tested if that person is symptomatic.

"The department will communicate with the clerk to start the process of investigation," Ngoloyi said.

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