Irate patient’s weeks of hell at Livingstone

Restaurant manager forgotten in wrong ward

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The restaurant manager, who was forgotten in the wrong ward for weeks, said he witnessed patients drinking alcohol, smoking and defecating on the floor.
Victor van Niekerk, 23, also almost got stabbed when two visitors started an argument in the ward he was in.

“I was new in Port Elizabeth and did not have medical aid.”
Van Niekerk arrived at the hospital at 9pm on a Friday.
“I was admitted and told to wait for a doctor. Someone gave me an injection but it was only 21 hours later that I finally saw a doctor.”
Van Niekerk was eventually admitted because he needed to see a hand specialist. “That Monday, they took me to theatre to close up my finger. It was completely torn apart in the accident.”
He said the first time he saw a doctor after that was on the Thursday.
“The doctor took the bandages off and asked me if I had any pain. He gave me a prescription for two Panados every day.”
Van Niekerk then spent the next 16 days waiting to see a specialist.
“I lost my job because nobody even gave me a medical certificate. I was almost evicted from the place where I was living.”
He said while there several patients openly smoked.
“They would hide the cigarettes if the nurse came in, but the nurses never did anything.”
He said some patients would sneak out to buy sherry at a nearby bottle store.
“Then at night they would drink,” he said.

On the 17th day of his stay, he discharged himself and went to see a doctor at Greenacres Hospital.
Van Niekerk said he later heard medical staff forgot about him because he was admitted in the medical ward and not in the orthopaedic ward.
“That [Greenacres] doctor intervened and phoned the doctor at Livingstone Hospital.”
A month after being rushed to Livingstone Hospital he was admitted again on April 21.
And while in the orthopaedic ward he was in the middle of a knife fight.
“A 15-year-old patient next to me was there for a broken leg. Two men came to visit other people but they had a disagreement.
“Then I saw them stabbing each other with knives. They were rolling over the boy with the broken leg and landed on me. The nurses were shouting for security.”
Eventually on April 26, Van Niekerk had his operation after being in and out of the hospital for 36 days.

It was during his second stay he saw people defecating on the floors. “There were no bedpans. All you could do was lie there and wait.”
The operation was relatively successful but he cannot move his ring finger.
“The doctor said I should go for physiotherapy but the physiotherapists said there was nothing they could do.”
He said his hand was now so ugly he had to wear a leather patch.
“I tried complaining but I quickly realised the nurses have also given up. That hospital is a hell-hole. The worst thing is I think I got off lightly.”
Eastern Cape Health Department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said patients with similar complaints should report them to hospital management.

Story by – Estelle Ellis ellise@timesmedia.co.za

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