Gauteng: Helen Joseph and Leratong a disaster

‘€œCertainly, at Helen Joseph, we have deaths that can be avoided on a weekly basis,’€ he said, recalling one of a several incidents which illustrates how the crisis had impacted on patient care.

Helen Joseph has 10 Intensive Care Unit beds with ventilators, however last year two ventilators broke down and the beds were not available.

‘€œThe demand for the beds did not decrease, but for the patients is translated into care being denied or being transferred to other hospitals , a risk in itself and would certainly increase morbidity and mortality,’€ the doctor said.

The doctor, who does sessions at Leratong hospital, described it as ‘€œa disaster, which is really an understatement’€.

‘€œIt is a tragedy, there is no equipment, more patients and sicker patients, but there are very few people with skills.’€

He added that he had been unable to do basic blood investigations or ECGs at the hospital. ‘€œWhen a patient arrives in trauma, the only thing you can do is give them an aspirin, that is bad’€.

He said there was a belief that Leratong was simply being ignored by the province.

The doctor said that for six months last year Helen Joseph hospital was without a basic antibiotic, Augmentin.   Doctors were forced to prescribe a third generation antibiotic at a much higher costs. ‘€œIt means we were treating flu with a nuclear weapon and breeding resistance, the result of which we are certain to see down the line,’€ he added.

Having worked for many years in the public sector, the doctor said matters had deteriorated, but that many people were still trying to do good at hospital level. However, he accused the province of being unable to fix the problems. ‘€œThe province has no idea of the struggles at hospital level. They simply don’€™t give us the budget to cope with the patient numbers and then put pressure on us to discharge patients early when there are no beds.

He said the biggest disasters that needed urgent addressing was the maintenance and replacement of equipment and the constant drug shortages.

Other problems included a claimed refusal by Charlotte Maxeke to admit foreign patients, referring them all to Helen Joseph, a persistent shortage of obvious consumables such as paper towels and toilet paper as well as poor security leading to cars stolen, break-ins at cars and doctors being accosted.

‘€œOur problems do not lie with local hospital management, it lies with the province. They had no idea, no plan. The new MEC seems to be trying, but it’€™s pretty much the same story and it basically means that the hospitals such as Charlotte Maxeke where the academics make a lot of noise, get the most attention from the MEC,’€ he said. – Health-e News Service


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