Deaf man says hospital staff didn’t understand him

Lucas Ramasimong

A breakdown in communication resulted in a deaf man refusing to be admitted to Khayelitsha District Hospital at the weekend.

Lucas Ramasimong, 44, had visited the hospital after he experienced stomach pain and was given further tests at the hospital to determine his illness.

When the doctors ordered that he be admitted, Mr Ramasimong refused and they gave him a refusal of treatment letter and released him.

Mr Ramasimong said the lack of sign language interpreters at the hospital had contributed to the confusion.

“Those nurses and doctors could not understand what I was saying and why I did not want to be admitted. I asked for my test results and they were not given to me,” he said.

He alleged that the staff were rude to him and he has sent a letter of complaint to the management of the hospital.

Mr Ramasimong’s friend and fellow sign language speaker Lydia Mkontwana, said it was sad that he received such a treatment in the month during which International Week of the Deaf (IWD) is marked.

“I have had my troubles at health centres like him and reported the matter. What we need are dedicated sign language interpreters at public service centres like hospitals,” said Ms Mkontwana.

Western Cape Department of Health spokesperson Monique Johnstone said they would look into the matter and said the department has a contract with a company that provides sign language interpreters.

“These translators are not all the time in our facilities; we have to book them in advance,” she said.