Uitenhage hospital staff demand separate fridge for Covid-19 corpses

Uitenhage’s Provincial Hospital does not have a separate fridge to store Covid-19 bodies or those of suspected cases
STAFF AT RISK: Uitenhage’s Provincial Hospital does not have a separate fridge to store Covid-19 bodies or those of suspected cases
Image: NOMAZIMA NKOSI

The department of health has confirmed that Uitenhage Provincial Hospital does not have a separate fridge to store the corpses of patients who die as a result of Covid-19.

Eastern Cape health spokesperson Siyanda Manana confirmed this yesterday after protests by hospital workers who said they did not feel safe there. .

Workers said they were most concerned that the bodies of those who had died from the coronavirus were not being kept apart from those who had died from other causes.

Manana said yesterday the hospital did not have a separate fridge to store Covid-19 cases and non-infected bodies, but this was being remedied.

“The hospital doesn’t have a separate fridge, but officials from Nelson Mandela Bay’s environmental health department are making arrangements.

“The hospital has ensured that it tries to keep suspected Covid-19 cases as far as possible from those who died of other causes.

“All measures are put in place, such as wrapping the body so that it is not left exposed,” Manana said.

Asked how many Covid-19 deaths had been registered at the hospital, Manana said there had been one suspected case whose diagnosis came after death.

“When the individual died, it was still a suspected case but after testing the results came back positive,” Manana said.

A porter at the hospital complained about being given only gloves and a mask to transport a suspected case to the mortuary.

Manana said when transporting a Covid-19 body to the mortuary, anyone handling it should be in full PPE (personal protection equipment) — white suit, goggles, gloves, mask and boots.

“When they’ve transported the body, all that PPE should be disposed of,” he said.

Other complaints from staff included several wards being used to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients when only one ward at the hospital had been identified to isolate patients.

Manana said there were 17 beds identified to care for Covid-19 cases.

Nehawu regional secretary Sweetness Stokwe said their members had complained about Covid-19 waste lying at the hospital for three weeks.  

“This hospital does not care about our members. They don’t feel protected,” she said.

Manana said an appointed contractor was meant to collect waste on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“We understand there were some challenges but these are being addressed,” he said.

To date in the metro, eight people who tested positive for Covid-19 have died.

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