Durban woman allegedly ignored by nurses dies on stretcher in hospital

Durban – A 31-year-old Durban woman has died on a government hospital stretcher after waiting four hours for treatment.
Ncamisile Yekwa suffered from a headache last Thursday and was taken to King Dinuzulu Hospital at about 11am on Saturday when her condition worsened.

Her sister, Nontlonipho Yekwa, who was with her at the hospital, said that had emergency care been given to Yekwa, her death could have been avoided.

She said on arrival they had joined the queue, and after an hour her sister was unable to sit without support.

“She could not keep her head up straight and she said the pain was unbearable. I went to a security guard, who advised me to go to a certain room where I found a nurse and explained to her that my sister’s condition was worsening.

“She had no interest in assessing my sister, but instead demanded to know who had directed me to her office. Another nurse offered us a stretcher and that’s how my sister managed to lay her head down,” Nontlonipho said.

She noticed that her sister was not breathing at around 3pm.

“She drew her last breath on a stretcher, without having been given any medical attention. When I realised that she was not breathing, I called a nurse who took a look and left. After a while, she returned with a number of people whom I believe were doctors. They drew the curtains and shortly thereafter told me that she was dead. They wanted to know what condition brought her to the hospital,” she said.

To avoid costs, the family had planned to bury Yekwa on Sunday, but they were worried after hearing that the post-mortem had not been done. “We were told it was going to be done today (yesterday) and the body will then be released. We are still waiting,” she said yesterday afternoon.

Health Department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said: “The department is extremely shocked and concerned by allegations that a patient died without getting the appropriate level of care at the hospital. To this end, and without prejudice, the department conveys its sincere condolences to the affected family. The department wishes to encourage all healthcare users and relatives to demand to speak to the hospital PRO, CEO, medical manager or matron in charge whenever concerns or grievances arise regarding the level of care.”

Mafunda asked for the Yekwa family’s contact details so the department could investigate.

“If any individual(s) is found guilty of an offence, they will be subjected to the most appropriate form of disciplinary action,” she said.

Dr Imran Keeka, DA spokesperson for health, said: “There must be a determination of who was culpable and/or complicit in the death of this person.”

He said the delay in performing the post-mortem was a result of the go-slow at Gale Street mortuary.