An incident involving an Eastern Cape hospital last week where a patient died a few minutes after she was discharged has opened a can of worms for it.
Those who had relatives die at Butterworth Hospital or die after being discharged have labelled it a “death hole”. Some said a patient is very lucky to come out of that “hellhole” alive.
Facebook user Lux September shared a Daily Dispatch post on Nomathubela Zondani, 50, of Toleni village near Butterworth, on his Facebook timeline.Zondani drew her last breath a few moments after she left the premises of the hospital after being discharged.
September wrote: “I remember just over a year ago… Butterworth Hospital told my uncle (who was struggling to breath and walk) to go home and come back the following day. My Uncle died a few hours later at my aunt’s place.”
Other provincial hospitals like Cofimvaba, Bhisho and Nelson Mandela Academic were not spared from the wrath of angry Facebook users who commented on the post, accusing healthworkers at hospitals of being “heartless and uncaring”.
Mthunzi Mhaga wrote: “Butterwoth hospital is a death hole.”
Kalipa Qaba wrote: “This is Butterworth Hospital at its best, you are very lucky if you come out of that hellhole alive.”
Poor management was also cited as one of the reasons the care at site hospitals was deteriorating.
September said his attempts to get details on what happened were fruitless, “only promises of an investigation”.
September said they had a state that no longer cared. “A state that has betrayed the very promises they made before taking power. We have departments who return hundreds of millions in EC to Treasury every year while healthcare is collapsing,” he wrote. He said they trusted health officials to know better. “Instead we are fed spin and promises. If you can’t afford private healthcare like my uncle, you are on your own.”
Sibusiso Mjikeliso said a similar thing had happened to two of his aunts.“The first one went to Bhisho Hospital in a non-critical state, never made it out alive. The second one went for a routine operation on her ovarian system, suffered heart complications but there was no cardiologist at Nelson Mandela Hospital in Mthatha… she died on the operating table.”
Siya Flema Mgwenyana wrote: “During my years in government as a risk manager, one of the province’s health department had a programme objective to reduce [the] number of deaths in hospitals. In achieving that objective and mitigating the risk of higher numbers, they decided to send patients home when they were about to die. My unit fought this mitigation, and we ended up losing that department as a client.This seems like it’s a national problem.”
Unathi Gcwabe said she took her nephew who had been hit by a car to Butterworth Hospital. “Just before he could be helped, I realised that the doctor was drunk and I didn’t want my nephew to be attended to by him. But I was told he worked best xa esele utywala (when he is drunk) and he is the only doctor on duty,” she said.
Yanela Madubedube echoed Gcwabe’s view, saying bonke ooDr pha zizidakwa(All the doctors there are drunkards).Speaking to DispatchLIVE about the social media outrage, health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said they were noting the complaints and advised people to log their complaints with the department’s call centre if they were not satisfied with outcomes of the investigations by the department.
“We investigate all the complaints we receive. That is the standard procedure. We cannot just take action without investigating what happened,” he said .
The department’s call centre number is 0800-032-364.