DA KZN: Stanger Hospital a disaster zone

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance can today reveal that patients served by the Stanger Hospital are the latest to be let down by KZN’s Department of Health.  This follows confirmation via reliable hospital sources that the CT scanner has been dysfunctional for a year, that the hospital has only one life support for newborn babies and that it has run out of the vital Mantoux test used as part of the diagnosis TB.

According to the DA’s professional sources, emergency patients are being transferred to other hospitals, under difficult circumstances, in order to be scanned. Durban and Empangeni hospitals that may accept emergencies are Ngwelezana, King George or Addington – this situation has no doubt added to their strain and volume of patients.

Then there is the current shortage of ambulances in the province for such transfers and the fact that delayed care for patients who have suffered strokes, head and neck injuries increases the likelihood of death – all because a machine is not working.

The DA has also learned that the hospital can only ventilate one critically ill new born at a time.  Parents of the very unfortunate others who are not accepted by referral hospitals or private hospitals are left without care to a terminal end.  There is also only one ventilator in the paediatric ward.  This is severely impacting on one of the hospital’s core function which is to save the lives of children and babies.

To add to patients woes, the hospital has run out of the Mantoux test, used in the diagnosis of TB.  While the department may contend that they still use the rapid test for TB, the Mantoux is commonly used in conjunction with this as research shows that with the rapid test there is the possibility of either a false positive or false negative results.  Without the Mantoux test, TB diagnosis and treatment will either be delayed or runs the risk of being an incorrect diagnosis.

Simply put, a quicker accurate confirmation of TB diagnosis will result in quicker treatment. TB, its diagnosis and treatment needs to be taken very seriously.  We have one of the highest numbers of immune-compromised patients in this province as well as having seen an outbreak of XDR TB in 2005.

I have written to KZN Health MEC, Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo to request urgent and immediate intervention at this hospital.  I will also send the MEC formal questions regarding Mantoux stock in the province.

I have also queried whether hospital managers have notified the KZN DOH of this deplorable state of affairs and if so, what the response was.  If hospital management has not done so, then serious and difficult questions need to be asked.

Where the DA governs, performance contracts in all departments are treated very seriously.  This should be a lesson for KZN.