Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital, South Africa

South African health system declines as COVID-19 patient dies after 100 hours without food

*A 34-year-old man with COVID-19 dies of hunger after tweeting South African Health Minister about his care, as Ombudsman accuses Johannesburg hospital of gross negligence

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The raging new strain of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in South Africa has brought to the fore the worsening state of healthcare in the country, following the death of a 34-year-old man with COVID-19 who was not fed for 100 hours or attended to by a doctor for almost three days.

The negative development is said to have shown the dire state of some of South African public hospitals in recent times.

Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital near Johannesburg was accused of gross negligence by the country’s health ombudsman after an investigation, agency report said.

Shonisani Lethole, the late COVID-19 patient, had told Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in a Tweet a couple of days after his admission to the hospital that “the problems I have at one of your facilities continues; it is becoming unbearable.

“And they don’t seem to care.”

Report indicates Lethole’s death sparked outrage on the social media in a country where there’s a marked gap in the quality of healthcare afforded to about 15 percent of citizens who have medical insurance and the rest of the population.

Thousands of consumers were said to have signed a petition to demand justice over the incident.

Late Lethole was brought to the hospital June 2020, and suffered from stage 4 renal failure after contracting the Coronavirus.

He wasn’t informed about the test results before his death six days later, according to report.

It was gathered the patient got no food for 43 hours before he was sedated and didn’t receive a feeding tube for 57 more hours after sedation, according to the investigation. Overall, it took 69 hours before registered medical practitioners assessed his condition. Upon his death, it took another 10 hours to remove his body from the bed.

The Southern African country’s ombudsman concluded in a report published Wednesday, January 27 that the hospital should not have been used as a COVID-19 facility and provided substandard care.

Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital was alleged to have put patients with and without COVID-19 in the same ward, barely kept records, and failed to move bodies to the mortuary timeously.

Concerned authorities are urged to take a disciplinary action against the facility’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and some staff, including those who had lied under oath to investigators or tried to mislead the probe, Mkhize ordered in 2020, report stated.

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