Milpark Netcare hospital accused of mixing Covid-19 patients with others

A hospital has been accused of mixing Covid-19 patients with other patients
A hospital has been accused of mixing Covid-19 patients with other patients

A patient who was admitted at Milpark Netcare hospital in Johannesburg is demanding answers after discovering that the patient she had been sharing a ward with tested positive for Covid-19.

Lizzy Mogotsi was admitted at the private hospital on May 15, and found out two weeks later that the woman who was in the same ward with her was positive for Covid -19.

“ I found her crying as I was walking out of the bathroom and asked her what was wrong , and she told me that she just received her results and they were positive,” Mogotsi said.

She confronted the nurses and was told that arrangements to move the patient were underway.

“We shared the bathroom and everything together and they failed to let me know. I have 4- year-old daughter and 70-year-old elder back at home.”

Mogotsi added that the 79-year old woman she shared the ward with was moved to another ward and when she asked she was told the elderly woman had tested positive for Covid-19.

Sandile Mbebe, director of Netcare for its south-west region, said: “ The three patients who were in the ward were all negative upon admission but one of the patients subsequently tested positive and was immediately moved to a Covid-19 zone. The other two patients were informed and private rooms were prepared for them so that they could be moved. They are being closely monitored and both patients will be tested for Covid -19 within the incubation period.”

Mbebe added that if a patient is tested negative during incubation period , the results are highly likely to show as negative . It is highly likely that this may have been the case in the patient who was admitted negative and later tested positive, he said.

“Two of the greatest challenges associated with Covid-19 infection are that those who are infected do not always show any symptoms. Even in the presence of extensive and affective infection prevention measures such as such as those within Netcare facilities. Any workplace with a gathering of people poses a risk for infection."

Mthatha private hospital in the Eastern Cape is also among the facilities that are alleged to have had incidents of positive Covid-19 patients being in the same ward as those awaiting results. Health workers who asked to remain anonymous said Covid-19 patients were placed in a maternity ward.

“The patients are placed in a maternity ward and death rate is abnormally high as some nurses refuse to attend to Covid-19 patients,” said one of the health workers.

Another worker added that they use plastic aprons to cover themselves. Another claim was that student nurses at the Mthatha facility are forced to attend Covid-19 patients as the senior nurses refuse to go the maternity ward.

The staff members added that the hospital management forces them to keep the numbers about the Covid-19 cases a secret, as well as threatening to sack them if they spoke out.

The staff at Mthatha private hospital also claimed they are forced to work even after testing positive or are awaiting results. Hospital manager Adhikar Naggasur dropped the call as soon as Sowetan asked about the allegations. Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has announced that the MEC for health, Sindiswa Gomba, has been tasked to submit a report on the allegations against private hospitals in the prvince. Apart from Mthatha, other private facilities to be investigated include St Mary’s and Life Beacon Bay.

Meanwhile, Nehawu regional spokesperson Zimasile Giyama said about the Mthatha private hospital: "The situation in that hospital can be described as a reign of terror which predates the current pandemic. Workers are treated no better than mere tools to maximise profits for the super greedy shareholders. A rule by fear where workers are threatened with dismissals [is prevalent]."

Giyama added that Nehawu will leave no stone unturned in pursuit of justice for its members."When we met, the management made commitments to provide personal protective equipment, organise ventilation and quarantine all the workers that had been exposed to the Covid-19 patients. All of this was not done. They have even demonstrated their arrogance by denying the health portfolio committee and MEC access to the premises. This is directly linked to the despotic, arrogant and intransigent style of leadership which advances narrow business interests ahead of people's lives."

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