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Patient died hours after hospital abuse caught on video

Durban – A patient at St Mary’s Hospital in Pinetown died hours after she was humiliated by a nurse on Monday afternoon.
A video of Nozipho Ngcobo, 43 – a nurse from Hammarsdale – went viral on Facebook after being posted on Tuesday by a patient who occupied a bed opposite her.

On Wednesday, the video had been viewed more than 640 000 times, was shared 1 405 times and amassed 873 comments.

The nurse can be heard telling the bedridden Ngcobo to use a bedpan to relieve herself. She warns Ngcobo of possible bedsores if she continues using nappies and that she must remember that she has more responsibilities and children waiting for her.

The nurse shouts at Ngcobo and does not draw the curtains while changing her nappy.

The patient who shot the video said she was traumatised by what she had witnessed. She asked not to be named because she had already received threats for posting the video. The hospital had also instructed her to remove it from her wall.

“I was in disbelief that a nurse could treat a patient with such lack of compassion. When she drew her last breath, the patient must have had the nurse’s image in her mind,” said the patient.

She said her traumatic stay at the hospital forced her to discharge herself on Tuesday.

“I’ve seen it all. During my stay, this was the third patient to die in front of me. The latest patient died in the early hours of Tuesday and remained on her bed until daybreak.

“I was not getting any help for my severe headache, so the thought of spending another day at the facility was too much for me to bear,” she said.

Before Ngcobo died, she was on a nebuliser and foaming at the mouth. When it was discovered that she had died, the nurses drew the curtains and left her on the bed.

The patient said: “Public health care facilities prove not to be reliable and we go there because we can’t afford the private facilities. I left that hospital before I could get my blood results so I don’t know how I will find out what I’m suffering from.”

Ngcobo’s daughter, Asanda, said her mother had returned to KwaZulu-Natal from East London because of ill health. She had pneumonia.

“This was her second week at the facility, and we have since discovered that she was not taking her pills and there was no explanation from the nurses for that. She was not getting decent treatment. The family is devastated,” Asanda said.

She said they also found that her mother’s two cellphones were missing when they collected her belongings. “This hospital and the department have a lot to answer for,” she said.

On Wednesday she received a call from the hospital, saying that the management wanted to meet her.

“I told them where to get off. They have to pay for the humiliation they put my mother through. That nurse displayed cruelty towards my mother,” she said.

Health Department spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi would not comment on the two patients said to have died in the ward before Ngcobo.

In a statement later, the department condemned the nurse’s conduct and said the hospital’s management was dealing with the matter according to the department’s disciplinary procedures.

It said: “The nurse appears to be addressing the patient in a manner that does not convey empathy.”

Democratic Nurses’ Organisation of SA provincial chairperson Sibonelo Cele said they had raised a number of issues with the department, including working conditions, staff shortages and medical equipment, “but not all is attended to”.

“This will cost the department dearly and it’s up to the leadership, political and administratively, to fix the problem.”

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