Cecilia Makiwane closes three units after staffers test positive for Covid-19

GUGU PHANDLE

Three critical medical units this week were closed at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane after some staffers tested positive for Covid-19.

The hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU), orthopaedic outpatient department (OOPD) and dental output patient department (DOPD) are empty of patients and health workers.

Health spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo confirmed it to DispatchLIVE, adding “the closure of any unit means a disruption in services”.

Kupelo said 79 nurses and general staff members had been tested at the ICU, OOPD, DOPD and surgical outpatient department.

An ICU nurse who spoke to the Dispatch on condition of anonymity, as they aren’t allowed to speak to the media, said over 40 ICU nurses insisted the unit be closed on Monday, after a nurse tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday.

The nurse said patients from CMH’s ICU were transferred to Frere Hospital.

She said the ICU nurses tested on Tuesday were at home in self-isolation.

Kupelo said: “No nurses were told to self-isolate, but they demanded self-isolation. Protocols don’t allow massive testing and isolation like this.”

Another group of nurses lambasted the hospital’s general management over positive Covid-19 cases.

One nurse said: “We had a patient who was positive and who died on May 14 at 9.50pm. Her corpse was only taken the following day, on May 15, after 2pm. Things continued as normal and no deep cleaning was done at all.”

Kupelo said: “Decontamination happens and it is happening in the stated units.”

The nurse said: “We had a few patients who died recently who were being investigated for Covid-19, but there have been delays with the results. This means we don’t know if those patients tested positive or not, yet we continued to work with and interact with other patients.

“The backlog of these results poses a threat to health workers at the hospital and to their families. They could come into contact with the virus unknowingly, and then take it home to their communities. It’s proving to be difficult to work under these conditions.”

Another nurse, who is at home in self-isolation, said used linen in the ICU ward had been piling up for several weeks.

“There’s dirty linen in the sluice room that has been there since May 13. This linen was used for different patients under investigation for Covid-19. The laundry facility refused to take the linen.”

“Management said a private company would collect the dirty linen. When we left on Monday the linen was still there. Our ICU is dirty. Our area and unit managers reported this but nothing was done,” said the nurse.

A post on health MEC Sindiswa Gomba’s Facebook page, posted on Tuesday evening, shows pictures of national parliament’s health portfolio committee on an oversight visit at CMH that day.

The post reads: “The national health oversight committee after receiving reports, toured the quarantine unit situated at Ward 16 at Cecilia Makiwane hospital in Mdantsane. The team thereafter moved to Frere Hospital to C1, ICU unit for Covid-19 patients. An area to be used to triage patients is almost completed at Frere Hospital.”

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