Portfolio Committee findings confirm poor state of Dora Nginza Hospital in Eastern Cape

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Findings of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on the state of hospitals in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro have confirmed concerns that the public has been raising about healthcare in their area.

They reportedly don’t provide care for the public. The committee was dismayed after completing a two-day oversight visit last weekend and engaged the Department of Health on what they found.

The public has been speaking out against the state of the hospitals for years now, about incidents of pregnant women sleeping on the floor at Dora Nginza Hospital and sometimes even sharing mattresses.

SABC reporter, Lerato Fekisi discovered what women had to endure while giving birth at the hospital and tells their story.

Four years ago,  Noluxolo Ndlazilwana gave birth to her son at Dora Nginza Hospital. A day later she was discharged, with no medical assessment or proper cleaning of her womb. A few days later she returned, in pain, unable to walk, talk or do anything.

She says nobody even wanted to attend to her as she lay waiting for treatment for weeks. Noluxolo developed bed sores, and alleges that, even then nobody came to help her. The unthinkable happened, when, the hospital removed her uterus, without her consent.

Noluxolo says she will never emotionally heal or forgive those responsible for this.

“The question that I asked them after they told me that they removed my womb. I asked them with whose permission, because I was not in a state where I could sign anything, also I was not even able to speak at that time. My aunt did leave her contact details and asked that if there is any urgent matter that needs family, she should be contacted immediately. But the hospital said because they saw the state I was in, they decided it was best to remove my womb. And I said but do you see the damage you have done, are you aware that your negligence means that I will never be able to have a child again.”

Dora Nginza is situated in the heart of Zwide township in Gqeberha and looks like any other public hospital.

A Facebook post asking for people to come forward with their stories brought about a flood of responses. An anonymous source says she almost lost her child because of the negligence at the hospital’s maternity ward.

“While you are at Dora, when you first arrive, you are moved to the ward and then when you get there, there are no beds. There are recliners, black leather recliners that we are only allowed to sit on during the day, then in the evening, we have to sleep on the floor, concrete floor. You are nine months or ten months pregnant, that is an agony I cannot even begin the explain. I was on that floor for two weeks, so that was definitely on my daughter. So, she was in ICU at Dora for almost two weeks, but she was in hospital for a total of three weeks.”

During their visit to various hospitals in the Nelson Mandela Metro, the portfolio committee found the Dora Nginza hospital a mess. The members are unhappy with all service delivery units and the general state of the hospital.

Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee Dr Kenneth Jacobs says they have a plan in place to turn around the situation at Dora.

“We have given some instructions that we want to get reports from the CEO on the recommendations of the public protector, the SIU, and also the health ombud and also our own recommendations. Within three months we are going to have a follow-up meeting with the CEO of the hospitals and the provincial leadership. We are then going to have a follow-up with the leadership of Eastern Cape Health and constant meetings with them.”

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesperson, Yonela Dekeda says the department is taking the suggestions from the portfolio committee to heart, as it moves to change the situation.

“A task team of the metro and provincial management teams has been established to develop and implement a turnaround plan for Dora Nginza hospital. This team has been hard at work in the past few weeks implementing short-term action, like filling of critical posts and procuring critical equipment and acute maintenance issues. The biggest chunk of Dora Nginza Hospital goes to NHLS, patients’ foods and medical consumables.”

The Department is also saddled with medico-legal claims of more than R4 billion just for this financial year.

The Department says the high costs are due to claims filed by unscrupulous legal practitioners colluding with healthcare workers. However, in the 2020/21 financial year, writs of execution arising from successful medico-legal claims amounted to almost R1 billion.