WATCH | Edenvale Hospital incident is an issue of space, not negligence – CEO
Space issues - not medical negligence – was the reason that pregnant women ended up sleeping on the floor, according to acting Edenvale Regional Hospital CEO, Dr Claude Mondzanga.
"The beds are quite tight. So from time to time, this may explain [why] the patients who are on the chairs, may want to go on the floor," he told News24 on Wednesday.
"I don’t think there was anything negligent because what we strive to do is at least, see everybody that is coming through the door. We assess them and if needs be, we still admit them and provide them with basic care," he said.
His comments come after an image of three women in labour, sleeping on the floor of the hospital on Monday night, went viral and prompted Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku to visit the facility.
Masuku described the incident as "absolutely unacceptable and deeply regrettable".
"The patient tweeted an image of the ordeal with the caption: "Women that are ready for labour sleeping on the floor in the Labour Ward because the are no beds. The are 11 others who slept on the floor. The water in the bathrooms are freezing cold. What did we do to deserve this.(sic)"
"We have a responsibility to plan better, and divert patients to other facilities when we foresee overcrowding. Patients must always be treated with dignity, and we must always ensure that we provide quality services to our people," he tweeted in response.
We have a responsibility to plan better, and divert patients to other facilities when we foresee overcrowding. Patients must always be treated with dignity, and we must always ensure that we provide quality services to our people.
News24 had an exclusive tour of the ward on Wednesday and found the following:
- 12 beds in the ante-natal section,
- 4 beds for delivery,
- 2 rooms for screening, and
- 20 beds for post-natal treatment.
In addition, there were three specialists, one head of department (HOD) and two interns, who rotate shifts.
This accommodates approximately 80 patients who pass through the ante-natal unit a day, according to the CEO.
In cases where beds are still full in the post-natal section, for example, patients from the delivery section will be moved with their bed due to constraints, leaving one less bed in delivery.
News24 also saw that where patients overwhelmingly outweighed the number of approved beds, they were placed on brown sofas as they awaited delivery.
"On that particular night, the numbers were just huge and that is why those patients chose to go on the floor," Dr Mondzanga said.
"Had this picture not gone viral, would these patients still be on the floor?" News24 asked.
"No, not really because we are involved in ongoing improvement. Just last week the HOD and the clinical manager sat and discussed how to improve maternity services," he responded.
The hospital is ideally supposed to be providing services to Alexandra, Edenvale and surrounding suburbs but in reality, it helps patients from as far as Soweto and Tembisa.
"In a month we do 450 to 500 deliveries of which 30% are C-sections. If you divide that by 30, it gives you an average of daily activity.
"This hospital is small, but it is operating in a bigger urban area. The resources are simply just not enough,” Dr Mondzanga added.
The hospital also pointed out that all three patients in the image had normal deliveries and were discharged after six hours.
News24 was unable to get comment from the person who tweeted the image.
The Gauteng Health department does not believe that the incident warrants an investigation, but will look at solutions to tackle overcrowding.
"The MEC is looking at ways to address issues of overcrowding which will include, for example, planning ahead and improving our primary healthcare facilities so that people have full confidence in going into our Community Health Centres (CHC) so that we alleviate the pressures on our regional and academic hospitals," spokesperson Kwara Kekana told News24 on Wednesday.