More than 50 staffers test positive at Addington Hospital
Durban - MORE than 50 staff at Addington Hospital have tested positive for Covid19 in the last three weeks, with about 20 more said to be waiting for their results.
These staff members not only include nurses and doctors but administration staff as well as senior officials of some departments in the organisation’s causality and human resources units.
According to a source, who revealed the information on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said there had been no formal communication from management to staff on the increasing cases. This was not until Friday, after the Daily News sent questions to the Department of Health around these cases on Wednesday.
It was also alleged that besides the worrying lack of communication of these cases to other staff, there had been no shutdown or disinfecting where staff had tested positive.
Information that this paper has is that from November 23 till Wednesday there were 45 staff members who tested positive while 10 more tested positive on Thursday.
The chief executive of Addington Hospital, Dr Mthetheleli Ndlangisa, when asked about the number of Covid19 positive staff cases, referred the Daily News to the department.
The department on Wednesday was sent questions about the number of staff members who had tested positive at the hospital. Almost five days later, the department has still not responded.
However, the department said it would issue a media statement on the matter without confirming when this would be.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary Ayanda Zulu said they were aware that there had been an outbreak of Covid19 cases among Addington Hospital staff.
“We are highly concerned because we have been raising some key and fundamental issues around health and safety in the hospital.
“In the past few weeks the national union has been holding pickets at the hospital on the basis that a number of lifts are currently not working. There are two lifts working where patients and staff are overcrowded in these particular lifts and that on its own poses a risk,” said Zulu.
He said the union had requested an urgent meeting with the KZN Health Department to discuss the state of Addington.
“We also want to discuss the health and safety of workers amidst the Covid19 second surge which is no longer something that is being projected but a reality now.
“We have requested a meeting and we are waiting for the Ministry of Health to respond so that we may be able to put on the table these concerning issues. Overall we are concerned about the state of the facility (Addington).
“”We do think that from around August the level of compliance in most of the hospitals has decreased leaving staff in a vulnerable state.”
It's also alleged that due to the non-functional lifts, the hospital was not receiving patients brought in by ambulance and that staff were only attending to walk-in patients.
At the weekend, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said there had been a total of 23 106 Covid-19 related deaths in the country, with 154 of these being recorded most recently, of these deaths 10 were in KZN.
South Africa recorded 852 965 Covid-19 cases as of Saturday.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu said they were not surprised that the country was in a Covid-19 second surge, as the writing was on the wall.
“It was clear that this was coming sooner or later based on the behaviour of our communities and the lack of clear law enforcement strategies to deal with those who were refusing to respect the regulations like wearing masks and ensuring social distancing in crowded areas,” said Shabangu.
He said Denosa were monitoring the situation on availability of oxygen cylinders in institutions as well as that enough PPE for their members were provided.
“We are grateful that those nurses who were on contracts since July have been given an extension of another six months to continue managing the outbreak.
“Though our goal is for all these nurses to be employed permanently because, besides Covid-19, a shortage of nurses cannot be disputed in this province. We must state that we have learnt a lot from the first wave during the last eight months and Denosa strongly believes we can do better this time around,” said Shabangu.