It is meant to provide top of the range health care for thousands of Khayelitsha people and beyond, but the Khayelitsha District Hospital has often come under fire.
And it was no better when Parliament’s Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings made an unannounced visit on Thursday April 12.
During the visit, patients and community leaders recounted the negative experiences they’ve had at the facility.
The visit followed a petition they received from Site B resident, Nobuntu Fuzane, who complained about negligence and incomplete recording keeping by KDH staff.
Among Ms Fuzane’s accusations was that her daughter had been assaulted while at the facility.
Her daughter Tamara, she said, had been admitted in 2014.
“When she was to be discharged, Ms Fuzane alleged, she was told not to change her daughter’s clothes at the hospital, but to rather do so at home.
“When I got home we found out that she was badly assaulted,” she said.
Ms Fuzane said they opened a case with the police after the hospital gave them the runaround-and then she took it up with the parliamentary committee. Police confirmed that the case had been opened.
But it appeared that this was only the tip of the iceberg, and people who use the facility complained to the delegration about having to sleep on the floor and wait in long queues, and being assaulted.
“this is what I have been talking about. There is no care here,” said Ms Fuzane.
“Many people are dying here and are still going to die if interventions by the government is not done.
Hospital management admitted that the hospital was busy, especially on Mondays and during the week after month-end.
Emergency Medicine Specialist, Doctor Hendrick Lategan, backed by Anwar Kharwa, CEO of the KDH, and deputy director of nursing, Grace Mashaba, conceded that some of the accusations were accurate, but defended the staff against many of the claims.
Doctor Lategan said over weekends the emergency room was inundated with patients.
“Trauma cases pick up over the weekend. We have a high proportion of very ill patients and a shortage of beds,” he told the delegation.
He said most deaths at the hospital were caused by some kind of trauma.
“Stabs wounds, accidents, violence and TB and HIV complicated sicknesses are some of the death causes,” he added.
Mr Kharwa said his staff worked day and night to service the community and assured members of the committee that interventions to address complaints at the hospital were imminent.
Khayelitsha ward councillor, Patrick Mngxunyeni, said thousands of people lived in fear and panic of ending up at the hospital.
“I have been receiving complaints about this hospital and I had sleepless nights about the poor service rendered here,” he said.
Mr Mngxunyeni said problems raised on Thursday had been raised in the past as well.
“People are given the wrong medication and I don’t know whether it is staff incompetence. Don’t hide from the fact that you are failing the people of Khayelitsha.
“The hospital outside is beautiful, but come inside the service is terrible,” he said.
A stunned committee chairperson, Dumisani Ximbi, said the hospital needed to transform and raised concerns about long lines and waiting times for patients. “This can not be right.
“There is a lot to be done here,” he said.