Tembisa Hospital is one of the hospitals has been identified as one of 11 state hospitals put on alert to treat patients who contracted the coronavirus. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)
Tembisa Hospital is one of the hospitals has been identified as one of 11 state hospitals put on alert to treat patients who contracted the coronavirus. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

‘Tembisa Hospital has been broken for years’ - community leaders speak out

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Jan 28, 2021

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Johannesburg - Community leaders and five more families of those who have lost loved ones inexplicably at Tembisa Hospital have spoken out against the poor treatment of patients at the hospital, with nurses, security guards and clerks singled out as the chief protagonists.

This was the sentiment on Thursday morning as Shonisani Lethole’s family, along with community leaders, responded to Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba’s report into the death of the 34-year-old, where he found there had been gross medical negligence which contributed to his death.

The Lethole family, community leaders and other grieving families who have lost loved ones at the hospital, are now working together under the movement #FixTembisaHospitalNow.

Busisiwe Twala, who had been pregnant with twins, revealed how she lost her daughter because a nurse took issue with her partner, who was coloured.

“I was pregnant with twins and she asked my why am I with a coloured man, and I told her it was not her business,” she said.

Twala had been booked for a C-section and after responding to the nurse, she was left to sit on the benches and was told the doctor was not present to assist her.

“I asked her why are you not helping me and she said there was nothing she could do because there was no doctor who wants to work because the next day was a public holiday, so I could not be taken to theatre to deliver via C-section because they could also not find my file,” she said.

She lost one baby, a baby girl, and she wondered if she could have fought the nurse harder to help her.

Bishop Reggie Makhubo, the president of the Tembisa Transformation Forum, which represents over 100 churches in the township, said they were angry and those responsible had to account for the state of the hospital.

“Sick people are scared of going to Tembisa Hospital because there is no dignity there, there is no ubuntu, it is horrible and sad.

“We blame nurses most of the time and we say they are arrogant, but they are understaffed and they responsible for many wards.

“But at Tembisa Hospital, the bad attitude starts from the gates from the security guard, to the clerk. Sick people are treated like criminals and you hardly see the cleaners, they are so few, the place is dirty and the attitude of the nurses is very bad,” he said.

Makhubo said patients were left to wet their own beds, which would only be cleaned by relatives who came to visit.

“People who are sick have to be washed, cleaned and fed by their relatives. If a patient cannot feed themselves, they will wait for relatives. They will soil, wet their beds, the nurses do not care. People are crying calling nurses and when you go there they are rude,” he said.

Makhubo wants his organisation to be allowed to send in volunteers inside the hospital who will be allowed to wash and take care of patients who have nobody to look after them.

“We can send people who can volunteer and help take care and wash patients who do not have anybody to take care of them.

“Many people are dying outside Tembisa Hospital because they are scared to go to there,” he said.

Sbongile Shabalala from the Treatment Action Campaign said the problems at Tembisa Hospital were not new.

“It has been years. We have been trying to interact with the CEO without any assistance.

“I am so sorry to all the families who have lost their loved ones. How many families are suffering the same because they have no voice and don't know who to go.

“The history of violations to patients has long been happening. People with HIV and chronic illness are being given medication over the fence, the staff attitude at Tembisa Hospital is a long-standing issue.

“These are the issues we have been talking about since 2012. It is very bad,” she said.

On the issue of missing patient files at the hospital, Shabalala said it was a matter that nobody wanted to take responsibility for at the hospital.

“We support the demands of #JusticeForShine. We call on the new MEC to make sure that all the demands are met and that they ensure all families get the answers to what happened to their family members,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng Department of Health said on Thursday that it would not be challenging the report, and said those who wished to challenge it, had to do so in their individual capacity.

This comes after hospital chief executive Dr Lekopane Mogaladi said on Thursday that he would be challenging the ombudsman’s report.


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