Staff claims lack of PPE at KZN hospital with 19 confirmed cases
The General Justice Gizenga Memorial Hospital in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal has been closed on Monday and will stop accepting new patients with immediate effect.
This follows a laboratory confirmation of 19 COVID-19 cases at the hospital involving nine mothers, two babies, four doctors and one nurse.
The news on Monday 4 May that the hospital (formerly known as Stanger Hospital) will be closing came as a relief to many. One of the hospital’s staff members, who asked to remain anonymous, has revealed that they were exposed to patients who tested positive for the virus.
Lack of PPE and face masks
“The authorities in the hospital would hide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face masks. They would only give these to medical doctors, while other staff members were told to perform their duties wearing their normal clothes,” according to the nurse.
“We raised our concerns with the matron’s office, but sadly nothing was done. The distribution of the masks were controlled in that office. The matron’s office closed at 16:00 and didn’t open on weekends. How were we supposed to even get face masks during weekend shifts?”
Tests withheld from hospital staff
The source also detailed how they were not allowed to be tested as they didn’t display any symptoms of COVID-19 despite being exposed to patients who had the virus.
“We were not allowed to get tested. If you were lucky to be tested, you were immediately told to go back to work instead of self-isolating for three days while waiting for the results.”
“My colleagues and I were even considering a protest just so our demands for a conducive and safe working environment could be met,” she added.
A KwaDukuza resident whose mother and aunt work at the hospital, also raised her concern about the conditions her mother and other healthcare workers work under.
“As a daughter to someone who worked in a very dangerous environment, I feared for her safety. We were also afraid that she might come back home with the virus and spread it within our family,” she said.
Urgent investigation by KZN health department
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said: “As a department, we are extremely concerned by these developments, and have urgently exercised our constitutional obligation to prevent a further outbreak of the virus.
“We have instituted an urgent investigation by our Communicable Diseases Control and IPC experts which will seek to establish, among others, where the virus came from, and how it was able to spread at such a rapid rate within the hospital.” she added.
Serious cases needing a higher level of care and surgery will be diverted to the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban.
The hospital’s management could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.
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