Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Africna News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/Africna News Agency(ANA)

KZN Health HOD allegedly warned about Wentworth Hospital crisis

By Thobeka Ngema Time of article published Jan 13, 2021

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DURBAN - The woman who was seen in a viral video screaming that she could not breathe at Wentworth Hospital was reported to have died.

The woman, identified as 67-year-old Rowena Hawkey, allegedly suffered from asthma, which resulted in cardiac arrest.

In the past few days, a video of a ward at Wentworth Hospital was circulated on social media, which showed a few patients sleeping on the floor, others on chairs and Hawkey was shouting that she could not breathe.

“I can’t breathe! Please get me out of here! Please get me out of here! I’m gonna die like this,” screamed Hawkey.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa ( Denosa) in Kwazulu- Natal called the KZN Health Department head of department ( HOD) three weeks ago and told him that there was a crisis at Wentworth Hospital.

Denosa KZN provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu told the Daily News that three weeks ago when he was at Wentworth Hospital, he saw that there was a crisis and called HOD Dr Sandile Tshabalala and told him about an imminent crisis.

Shabangu said he was then told that hospital management should sort it out.

“What happened is that patients would go to the hospital but get there, and there are no nurses, which is exactly what was seen in that video,” said Shabangu.

He said when he was at the hospital, he noticed that there were six oxygen ports, and more than 15 patients needed oxygen. Therefore, who was going to get oxygen and was not?

“Nurses were being set up to fail,” said Shabangu.

He explained that in the hospital unit, there were six oxygen points, which were already connected, but there was only one oxygen gauge.

A nurse, speaking under anonymity, said oxygen is set up in the following steps – the oxygen gauge is attached to the oxygen point. Then an aquapack oxygen humidifier, because it is not advisable to give a patient dry oxygen, followed by the oxygen tube and lastly, the oxygen mask.

Shabangu said in a situation like Wentworth Hospital, the patients should have been provided with a removable oxygen cylinder.

“This showed that Wentworth was not ready in the human resources department and with equipment,” he said.

Shabangu also said 28 patients were waiting for beds, and even if a patient received a bed, there were no porters. Therefore, nurses had to take one patient at a time.

He questioned how nurses would divide themselves.

Shabangu said he found it very irritating that the Health Department said they would investigate the situation because there are no doctors and nurses because of Covid-19.

Tshabalala said since they started having healthcare workers being infected, dying and exhausted as a result of Covid-19. Having people infected in very high numbers, they realised they had a crisis and were treating it as serious as it had the potential of doing more harm.

“It’s not like Mr Shabangu told us of a crisis that we were not aware of. We were dealing with a serious challenge that’s going to make us consider, saying ’how do we share the resources among a group that we classify as Covid-19 patients and other patients’,” said Tshabalala.

He said they always knew they had a serious challenge. They were told the second wave might be harder to manage than the first wave.

Daily News

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