Families were unable to contact their loved ones at Wentworth Hospital. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Africna News Agency(ANA)
Families were unable to contact their loved ones at Wentworth Hospital. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Africna News Agency(ANA)

Families left in the lurch after hospital’s phone lines damaged in storm

By Anelisa Kubheka Time of article published Jan 6, 2021

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A DURBAN family was relieved yesterday to learn finally how their Covid-19-positive father was doing in Wentworth Hospital after the hospital’s telephone lines were damaged during the heavy storm on New Year’s Eve.

This had been particularly frustrating as the mourning family lost their mother Sangitha Bhikhoo on Boxing Day to the virus.

Rajbally Bhikhoo, 68, of Merebank, was admitted to hospital on New Year’s Eve, three days after attending his wife’s funeral.

His family were unable to find out about his condition because they were turned away at the gate by security and told there were no visitors allowed. They also could not take food into the wards.

The Department of Health said the lines had been damaged by the heavy storm on New Year’s Eve.

“While the lines are being repaired, hospital management has made alternative means and the public can get in touch with the hospital on 031 468 3340 or 060 908 2507. Relatives of patients admitted to Wentworth Hospital and the broader community have also been given these numbers. The CEO has also informed the hospital board members and the Wentworth community structures about the matter, which is being resolved,” said spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa.

Yesterday, after phoning the cellphone number provided by the department, Bhikhoo’s son Vinod learnt that his father was recovering well after being admitted with breathing difficulties.

He said his biggest concern had been his father’s state of mind being alone after having lost his wife.

“I didn’t want him to feel like we had just dumped him there. I wanted to get food in there so he could eat. It's no good giving medication if he is not eating. I didn’t know if he was eating or even if he was still alive,” Vinod said.

He had been more concerned about his father as his mother had died at Wentworth Hospital the day after Christmas.

“I understand that people don’t want to put their lives at risk but people can’t be treated like this. The condition in which I found my mother one day at the hospital… I could hear her screaming from down the passage wanting to go to the toilet but no one was attending to her.

“I understand that they have a lot on their plate but for a nurse in the next room to say she will attend to her when she gets time… my mother was not in a ward, she was put in some corner where there was a window and door with the monkeys coming in,” he said.

Vinod described being affected by Covid-19 as a traumatic experience. An ambulance that had been called out to help his struggling mother on December 21 apparently refused to take her, he said.

“We told them that while she had not (been) tested, she had symptoms. She was struggling to breathe and they refused to go anywhere near her saying they did not want to place their lives at risk. They said we should call a Covid ambulance and they would do the same. It never arrived. We took my mom in an Uber to hospital.”

Daily News

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