Some nurses have said that because of the bed shortage, patients were being doubled up in wards, and those with surgical wounds were being placed with tuberculosis (TB) patients.
A nurse, who did not want to be named, said the storm damage affected the theatres, casualty units as well as the labour and maternity wards.
“Since the storm, the surgical wards were closed and that led to the number of beds being limited,” she said.
She added that because the wards had been closed she had thought incoming casualties and trauma patients would not be accepted at the hospital until a solution had been found, but this was not the case.
She alleged that patients came in needing immediate help and found themselves sometimes placed in the trauma area for days because beds were unavailable in the wards.
She said that the trauma/casualty department was not equipped to keep patients for long periods of time.
“Patients there do not get food, they do not have designated bathrooms to shower and they sleep on stretchers,” she claimed.
“Patients are being mixed up in the wards; those with recent surgical wounds will be put with TB patients, which is wrong,” she said.
She stressed that patients were not getting their basic needs met, and felt that the community was also not speaking up on the matter.
Mandla Shabangu, provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, said he was informed recently, by nurses, of the issue.
“The nurses were threatening to down tools if the hospital does not address the issue soon,” said Shabangu.
Ncumisa Mafunda, provincial Department of Health spokesperson, said the storm caused structural damage to 21 different sections of the hospital and this inevitably had an adverse impact on normal operations.
“In a bid to ensure that the hospital is not overcrowded and to mitigate the impact of this on service delivery, management of King Edward VIII Hospital has always been in regular contact with its counterparts at neighbouring hospitals with available beds, to make arrangements to receive patients,” Mafunda said.
She added that the mixing of patients of different sexes was only done at high care and ICU where they were confined to their beds.
“The department appeals for patience and understanding from the public until the situation returns to normal,” said Mafunda.