From Katlehong on Johannesburg’s East Rand, Mabuya began struggling to walk on 27 March. His wife, Nosiphiwe Malangabi, took him to a nearby clinic, which then called for an ambulance to rush Mabuya to Natalspruit Hospital.
At the hospital, casualty ward staff diagnosed him with bacterial meningitis, or a swelling of the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord caused by an infection. Bacterial meningitis is a serious condition and can leave patients with complications including brain damage and hearing loss.
About two hours later when Mabuya’s family left, he had still not been allocated a bed and was being treated on a gurney in a hospital corridor. According to Malangabi, when the family returned hours later, Mabuya was still being treated in a corridor. When the family questioned the state of the intravenous drip as well as why he was lying in a corridor instead of in a ward, Malangabi alleges that a verbal argument ensued between the family and a matron.
Malangabi now alleges that poor care by hospital staff contributed to her husband’s death about a day later on 29 March.
“If the right procedures were followed and my husband was attended I believe he would still be alive,” she told OurHealth. “All we want is the department to fix the ill-treatment that is being given to patients and families at Natalspruit (Hospital.”[quote float= left]“If the right procedures were followed and my husband was attended I believe he would still be alive”
Treatment Action Campaign member Nomthandazo Ndlela was at the hospital with Mabuya’s family and says she witnessed the nurses’ poor treatment of the family.
Natalspruit Hospital has admitted Mabuya waited for about 12 hours before he was able to get a bed in a ward due to a shortage of beds, according to Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Prince Hamca. However Hamca maintains Mabuya was monitored by nurses about every two hours.
“Even though Mr Mabuya was nursed in the corridor due to bed shortages, he was constantly monitored by the nursing and medical personnel,” said Hamca, who added that Mabuya’s family will soon be invited back to the hospital to discuss their concerns.
He added that Natalspruit Hospital was not alone in bed shortages.
“Due to an increase in medical patient volumes resulting from a fast-changing disease burden, the whole public health system experiences shortages of beds as patients require admission instead of being treated as outpatients,” he told OurHealth.
“To address this challenge, hospital management has moved the admission ward to a bigger ward,” added Hamca, saying that MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu recently announced a new electronic bed management system would be rolled out provincially to better manage hospital beds.
Earlier this week, Health-e News reported that the recently opened hospital had a waiting list of about 90 patients waiting for cervical cancer screening.
“Some women have waited since July last year for a colposcopy, which is utterly unacceptable,” said Democratic Alliance Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health Jack Bloom said in a statement in response to the story.
“The new Natalspruit Hospital was opened last year with great fanfare by Premier David Makhura who said that it was ‘our hospital of the future,’ Bloom added. “It has so far been a great disappointment, with overcrowding and long waiting periods in certain departments.”
An edited version of this story first appeared in The Star newspaper.