Urgent probe launched after Covid-19 deaths at Harding hospital

By Vernon Mchunu Time of article published Jan 6, 2021

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Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has launched an urgent investigation following the deaths of six patients at St Andrew’s Hospital in Harding this week, after they were admitted in connection with Covid-19-related infections.

“Preliminary information in this instance shows that the hospital's contingency plan kicked in when challenges were experienced with the reticulated oxygen.

“This entailed the use of oxygen cylinders,” said Health Department spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa.

He said “an urgent internal investigation has been instituted into the matter”.

“We would therefore like to discourage any speculation regarding this matter, pending the completion of this investigation.”

An inside source, who cannot be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media, told The Mercury earlier that the South Coast public hospital was caught off-guard in that it was under-prepared for a sudden admission of patients with infections related to Covid-19.

“Not enough oxygen was readily available to deal with Covid-19 patients. It is clear that they did not expect that there would be an increase in infections for a health facility located in a small town such as this one and surrounded by rural areas.”

The death of the six patients came a day after KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala expressed concern over the fast rising death toll in the province, and after Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced a massive vaccination rollout plan that will begin next month and cater for the front line healthcare workers first, followed by the elderly and people living with comorbidities, before reaching 67% of the targeted general population by year end.

Located in the Ugu health district, St Andrews Hospital is a district hospital with 268 beds.

According to the Health Department’s website, the facility serves a predominantly rural population, with about 21% of the head count being cross-border patients, mainly from the Eastern Cape, and the majority being patients from Ghost town, Zelia, Mazakhele and Greenfields suburbs.

Some also come from the rural areas of KwaMbotho, KwaJali, KwaMachi, KwaNyuswa, Umzimkhulu, Bhizana and Weza.

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The Mercury

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