More and more stories about the lack of care and service at Evander hospital is surfacing after a desperate mother struggled to get her son transferred to a hospital that can operate on him.
17-Year old High School Secunda student, Stephan Pelser, broke his back in *5 places when the family car skid and rolled on the outskirts of Secunda last Tuesday morning.
He was admitted to Casualties where he laid for more than a day before being transferred to the surgical ward on Wednesday evening. But since the hospital doesn’t have a surgeon who can operate on him, he needed to be transferred to Witbank or Steve Biko. But the hospital refused to release him for different reasons. This according to Elsabe Pelser, Stephan’s mom.
Dr. Bolembe apparently said he should get a brace before being transferred but staff ignored his orders and transported him to Ermelo provincial hospital to get a brace fitted. However, they returned with x-rays and no brace. X-rays which were already taken at Evander hospital.
Worried that her child might have to lie in Evander hospital, possibly until 17 January next year, Elsabe contacted The Bulletin for assistance. Only after intervention from DA Councilor, Encee van Huyssteen and journalist Gwendie Venter, Stephan got transported by Netcare 911 to Steve Biko Academic hospital in Pretoria on Friday evening.
How events unfolded during The Bulletin’s visit to Evander hospital:
When we arrived at the hospital, we met Elsabe, a single mother, in front of the surgical ward and all that stood in the way of this single mother and her son was a rude security guard that decided who he unlocks the gate for.
When asked if we could see Stephan, he said that we should wait until visiting hours. However, he let another man enter and when confronted, he said that the man was a patient in the ward. The same “patient” was seen walking out of hospital grounds a few hours later and confirmed to The Bulletin that he was not a patient but a visitor. According to Elsabe only some individuals are allowed entry into the ward during non-visiting hours and the staff and security decides who they like enough to make exceptions.
We used the time to try and get the opinion of all parties involved. While the Councilor Encee van Huyssteen, was trying to get hold of the CEO, JS Aphane, Journalist Gwendie Venter went on to speak to Elsabe and other patients. The CEO was not available for comment.
When we were finally allowed to see Stephan, we found him in the same shirt he was wearing on the day of the accident, laying on a barely covered mattress and an almost full catheter that rests on a footstep.
He told The Bulletin how he was left to his own mercy and had to lie in his own urine when his catheter bag overflowed. He also explained how he had to push the catheter tube back into his body when it got detached. He told us how he helplessly called the nurse to switch off the light one evening but that they ignored him and he could hear them laughing as they walked past his room and he received Panado’s for pain. “He sent me a message with crying faces, he said he is in so much pain. This after they told me to leave because they want to administer pain medication,” Elsabe said.
During our visit on Thursday morning, tears ran down Elsabe’s cheeks as she begged staff for information and a chance to see the file but Masondo just looked at her with no interest in the case whatsoever. The doctor on duty, Dr. du Plessis, escorted us to a consulting room in the casualty ward and showed us the x-rays. The doctor who admitted Stephan, Dr. Bolembo was also present and phoned around, desperately trying to get Stephan transported but clearly didn’t receive co-operation. “He is a wonderful doctor and seems like the only one who really tried since day one,” Elsabe said.
Encee phoned James Masangu, DA Provincial leader, who in turn contacted the MEC. The MEC contacted the hospital. The manager, Richard Ndlovu, called the relevant people into a consulting room. The Bulletin was not allowed to sit in on this meeting but afterwards Elsabe told The Bulletin that the manager was not happy about how the case unfolded. Apparently the manager said that Stephan should be transferred to Highveld Medi-Clinic on the states cost or he must be transferred to Pretoria before 17:00 on Thursday evening.
The Bulletin left the hospital satisfied that something is happening but got a call late Thursday evening that informed us that he will be transferred to Witbank at 05:00 on Friday morning. We arrived at the hospital on Friday morning just to find out that Stephan is still in the same situation.
We were refused entry into the ward once again and staff were very rude when we asked to take a peek into the room to make sure that Stephan is still there.
The hospital called Elsabe into a meeting once again and agreed to transfer Stephan to Steve Biko. Elsabe, who is a single mother, reached out for help on facebook and Bryan Jones opened his heart and payed for the transfer costs. Stephan is currently still laying in the casualty ward of Steve Biko while they are waiting for a bed to open in the hospital. “This hospital is way better than Evander and Stephan is doing good,” Elsabe said.
We had the chance to speak to another doctor on a previous occasion and the doctors at the hospital we had interaction with came across as competent. They work very hard and long hours and seem to be trying their best.
– The nurses and matron we interacted with were openly arrogant, aggressive when confronted and didn’t seem to care that they are damaging the hospital’s name and reputation.
– By the state of the patients it looks like they do the minimal nursing duties. Stephan’s sheet barely covers his mattress. Stephan’s uncle from North West province had to bathe him on Wednesday evening with no help from nurses.
– Personnel, other than the doctors we came across were sulking and rude.
– We got confronted by the matron about media procedures and were told to only speak to the CEO, JS Aphane, who was not available for comment on every visit and by the time of going to print he still didn’t respond to messages. It seems like he is not willing to tell the hospital’s side of the story and it also seems like there are major communication issues.
– The hospital doesn’t smell fresh and clean and equipment is seen standing around in the halls.
– A patient, who wants to stay anonymous, told The Bulletin in November that she fell from her stretcher while being transferred with a broken neck to another hospital after an Evander hospital employee forgot to lock the wheels of her bed and it collapsed.
– A mother sustained burn wounds when she went for a sonar
– A patient who had a suspected mental breakdown, got booked into the surgical ward for observation and is not being communicated with.**
– Nadia Nadz Smit said that she almost lost her 2 month old daughter whose fever was 40 degrees. She stated that she waited for five hours to get someone to help her. All they gave her baby was Panado and Allergex and she had to drive to Steve Biko for assistance.
– Evander Clinic refuses to refer a toddler that is currently living with a burst eardrum, to see a doctor at the hospital. According to the child’s guardian, the clinic doesn’t want to say why.
– Bianca Burger stated that she had to go to Evander Clinic for three consecutive days to see a doctor, but her appointment was postponed every time. When she finally saw a doctor, she was refused assistance and the doctor told her that she will only help who she wants. Bianca located from Pretoria a year ago and said the doctor also told her that she should go the F*&^ back to where she came from.
The Bulletin was told by Matron Masondu of Evander hospital that we are not allowed to speak to anyone and must ask our questions to the CEO. During our visit, we were told that the CEO was in a meeting. By the time of going to print, nobody had responded to messages and the hospital was still not willing to tell their side of the story.
*It was originally thought that Stephan’s back was broken in two places but after arriving at Steve Biko, Elsabe reported that his back was broken in 5 places.
**The patient got booked into Evander hospital after social workers intervened when he had a suspected emotional breakdown. Last Monday, a manager of a complex in ext. 22, phoned Secunda SAPS for the second time in two weeks out of fear. The patient threw his flatscreen TV on the pavement, spray painted his flat and washing machine, trashed his place, broke memorabilia, ripped up photo’s and caused lots of other damages. With the Bulletin’s visit to the scene, the patient said that voices told him to do it and that people are trying to kill him. He also said people are talking to him through HD (High definition) and spying on him through Wi-Fi. After talking to him, we found out that he and his wife had recently split up and he got retrenched last year. The complex managers first thought he was high on drugs. The reason why he was booked into the surgical ward last Monday is unclear.