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Khayelitsha District Hospital still struggles with capacity

Patients photographed sleeping on the floor and on chairs in Khayelitsha District Hospital

Patients photographed sleeping on the floor and on chairs in Khayelitsha District Hospital

Published Jul 30, 2022

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Cape Town - The Khayelitsha District Hospital (KDH) has again been accused of neglecting patients. Pictures of patients sleeping on the floor were trending this past weekend with one patient saying she slept next to what seemed like a dead body while nurses ignored her call.

The hospital celebrated a decade since it opened its doors in April this year but it seems it still is struggling with capacity. Andy Buthane said her visit to the hospital was traumatic. She took pictures of patients sleeping on the floor while others were sleeping on metallic chairs.

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“It was a bad sight,” she said. “Serious interventions are needed and I will write to the MEC. I have also asked people to share their experiences and the response I have received are traumatic.”

Another visitor to the hospital Fundiswa Pilingane said her 70-year-old mother had to wait for over three hours to get a bed. “While waiting, they did not even bother offering us something to eat. I went out to buy food for her and when I returned, the security guards refused me entry. I cried in front of them, luckily their colleague arrived and felt sorry for me.”

In February the hospital management was called to appear before the standing committee on health in the Western Cape legislature. This was after a story by our sister paper, the Cape Times that exposed conditions in the hospital where patients were huddled on the floor and used blankets to sleep while being connected to ventilators.

The management said one of the main contributors to the pressures on capacity is the large community it serves. In addition to a population which is exponentially increasing, the community also experiences high burdens of diseases linked to general socio-economic conditions

Speaking on behalf of the hospital, Abulele Dyasi said KDH like all the hospitals in the province, sees an influx of patients, especially over weekends who need emergency care due to trauma and interpersonal violence.

“The past weekend was very busy with trauma cases and the emergency team was under enormous pressure. Unfortunately, this affected patient waiting times and patients who were triaged as green or yellow had to wait longer.”

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Dyasi said to ensure they treat people with life-threatening and urgent conditions first, they triage patients on arrival according to the seriousness of their condition.

“It sometimes happens that some patients choose to sit or sleep in the waiting area because they prefer not to go home when discharged in the evening for safety reasons or while they are waiting to be fetched by family members. We do not encourage patients to sleep in the waiting area and we urge all non-urgent patients to please visit their nearest clinics before visiting the hospital to ease the burden on emergency healthcare workers and to ensure they receive medical care as soon as possible.”

The Standing Committee on Health will be conducting a physical oversight visit to KDH in order to view the progress made in service delivery since initial engagements with the hospital’s management in February. The visit is expected to happen on Wednesday.

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