Media Statement by KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu: Wentworth Hospital video matter is under investigation; challenges have been addressed; healthcare workers deserve praise for putting up a brave fight ageist pandemic

11 January 2021

We have noted video clip that is being widely circulated on social media, which depicts patients from Wentworth Hospital in an apparent state of discomfort.

First and foremost, we wish to emphasise that we strongly condemn the filming and distribution of video footage of any patients within the care of the Department, without official authorisation, and the patients’ express permission.

This is indecent, and tantamount to the violation of patients’ inalienable right to privacy and dignity.

Naturally, we are concerned by circumstances that led to this situation, and are investigating this matter.

As a Department, we became aware of this video this past weekend and immediately dispatched a high-level delegation of managers from head office to establish the facts, and come up with an immediate resolution of the situation.

We have since established that:
  • The patients who were filmed were awaiting their COVID – 19 results, also known as Patients Under Investigation (PUIs);
  • On the day in question, the hospital had received a particularly high number of patients;
  • Additionally, 11 doctors were away in isolation, after testing positive.
  • A further 17 nursing staff were off, due to COVID – 19. Six nurses were in charge of the Accidents and Emergency Unit, as well as a 28 – bedded short stay ward with very sick patients.

The delegation from head office has since assisted the hospital to ensure that patient flow is management properly, through the following interventions:

  • Making alterations at Wentworth Hospital’s Accidents and Emergency Unit, which has created space for more beds, which will help alleviate congestion;
  • Sending recovering patients to Clairwood Hospital, which has ample space, while those who need oxygen are sent to isolation.

Furthermore, we firmly believe the availability of COVID – 19 Rapid Tests will progressively reduce the time spent by patients who are awaiting their results.

We have a serious and deadly pandemic on our hands, which is now of our own making.

We sincerely appreciate the profoundly good work that is being done by our tireless frontline workers, and staff across the board, to help the Province square up to this pandemic.

We call upon the public to play their part and help us fight this pandemic, by adhering to the safety protocols, such as wearing of face masks when out in public; regular hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer; and maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 – 2 metres between themselves and other people.

As a Department, we yet again make a commitment to continue doing our best to render the best possible level of healthcare to the public under prevailing conditions; to attend to challenges when they arise and act speedily and decisively to address them; and provide our foot soldiers with all the protection and other assistance that they may need.

ENDS Issued on behalf of KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu

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