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Helderberg Hospital in the spotlight again

Cape Town - Helderberg Hospital has again come under fire. This time two Cape Town families claim their loved ones struggled to secure beds.

Liesl Corneilse, of Observatory, said that her father, Audrey Corneilse, was made to wait long hours in the Somerset West hospital’s trauma unit despite having suffered a heart attack.

Patients are forced to sleep in the corridor at Helderberg Hospital. Photo: Cindy Waxa. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

The 72-year-old, also diagnosed with delirium (acute confusional state), had to sit in his wheelchair for seven hours and spent two days on a thin mattress, she said.

Corneilse, who was diagnosed critically ill on arrival at the hospital in April, was given a mattress only after his daughter allegedly paid a hospital porter. He died a week later.

The family of Charlotte Minnie, 63, of Somerset West, who was admitted to the hospital in a critical condition with liver cancer in February, have lodged a complaint with the hospital’s management after staff refused to give her a trolley and made her wait in her wheelchair at the trauma unit. Minnie died on the day she was admitted.

Faiza Steyn, spokeswoman for the provincial Department of Health, could not confirm the formal complaints, citing that “exact dates [of admission] and folder numbers would be useful to track these”.

She said facility and district management would communicate directly with the complainants.

The two families went public following a Cape Argus article that exposed a critical shortage of beds at the Helderberg Hospital.

The shortage led to Marius Gerber, of Somerset West, sleeping in his car. Gerber believed he had suffered a heart attack and was only given a bed 48 hours after his wife Mariette had contacted the media.

Corneilse said her father had had the same experience.

CharlynMinnie, who is an occupational therapist in the UK, said she was shocked to see a nurse trying to take her mother’s oxygen supply to give to another patient.

Steyn said the 162-bed hospital would be expanded soon.

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