Cape Town -
A Crossroads woman has died after her appendix ruptured while she waited for emergency surgery at the new Mitchells Plain Hospital.
Now her family has lodged a complaint, and so has another family in connection with a stroke patient, bringing to four the number of formal complaints against the hospital, which officially opened only last month.
Relatives of Lulama Stella Gebu, 49, claim that despite a private hospital doctor saying she needed an emergency appendectomy, doctors at Mitchells Plain Hospital did not do the operation for almost 12 hours, by which time it was too late. She died on Sunday after developing sepsis a few hours after the surgery.
Speaking in his home in Crossroads on Monday, her son Thandile said: “It’s really hard to believe that my mom is gone. She was such a jovial person, full of humour, and was everything to me… she was a single mother, but she gave my sister Nosiphiwo and me so much love that it’s hard to imagine life without her.”
Gebu’s sister in-law, Melina Ngcamela, said that Gebu, who a was a domestic worker in Tokai, had not felt well. “She suspected that she had ulcers.”
Her employer, Natalie du Preez, took Gebu to Constantiaberg Medi-Clinic for emergency treatment on Saturday morning after she fell ill on Friday night.
Noma Yawa, spokeswoman for the hospital, confirmed that Gebu was diagnosed with appendicitis, treated and transferred to Mitchells Plain Hospital for emergency surgery.
She left Constantiaberg at 8am, but Du Preez said she was shocked to discover that the emergency operation had been performed almost 12 hours later, by which time it is understood her appendix had ruptured.
“I was stunned when I phoned the Mitchells Plain Hospital at 2pm that day and was told that Stella hadn’t been operated on. She apparently had the operation at 8pm and came out at midnight – 16 hours after being admitted for an emergency at Constantiaberg,” she said.
Du Preez believes had Gebu been operated on sooner, she would be alive.
“I am just too angry. The rupture was totally preventable. The state is supposed to protect and care for those who cannot afford private healthcare.”
The family of John William Samuels, 69, of Mitchells Plain has also lodged a formal complaint with the provincial health department and the office of the Premier, after Samuels had to wait in a queue for almost four hours despite having suffered a major stroke hours before.
In a letter his daughter Shantell Sables accuses the hospital and the Mitchells Plain community health centre of negligence.
She claims that despite a clinic doctor telling them Samuels was heading for a major stroke due to his extremely high blood pressure, the doctor sent him home. He had a stroke on November 21.
After waiting six hours for an ambulance, he was taken to Mitchells Plain Hospital where he was reportedly given a wheelchair and told to wait. Three-and-a-half hours later Sables visited him and when she discovered he had not been treated, “made a scene”.
Sables said staff had also not fed him although he was paralysed on one side.
“Why they (staff) chose this profession astounds me,” she said.
Mark van der Heever, spokesman for the health department, confirmed that both complaints were being investigated.
“The management of the Mitchells Plain and Klipfontein sub-structure have made an appointment with the family for Thursday to personally address all aspects of their complaint and grievances following the investigation,” he said.