Media: Birth ordeal outside clinic

5 04 2009

In the latest indictment on the cape’s health-care centres, a teen was forced to deliver herbaby on the pavement after being turned away at a facility’s gates

March 23, 2009 Edition 1 (click here for edition 2)
SIPOKAZI MAPOSA, JADE WITTEN AND BRONWYNNE JOOSTE
Source: Cape Argus

A TEENAGER from Crossroads gave birth on the pavement outside the gates of the Guguletu Maternal Obstetrics Unit just hours after nurses discharged her, telling her she was not yet in labour.

Even when baby Yonela fell on to the pavement, security guards allegedly failed to help and the night shift nurses inside responded that the birth was not their problem since it was happening outside hospital premises.

The is the latest shocking revelation to rock the province’s state health-care services, after the Cape Argus revealed last week that a one-year-old baby had died on his grandmother’s back after she was turned away from three different health-care facilities.

Now the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign is threatening legal action on behalf of little Unabantu Mali.

Mncedisi Twalo, the organisation’s provincial co-ordinator, said they would lay a charge of negligence against the city, which has authority over the Nyanga Clinic, and the provincial government, which has authority over the Guguletu Community Health Centre and the Guguletu MOU, the three health-care facilities involved.
In the latest incident to emerge, Thoko Mangena has said her three-week-old baby is lucky to be alive after her ordeal at the gates of the Guguletu MOU.

On March 3, Thoko was dis-charged with her mother, Linda Mangena, after spending 12 hours in the hospital with labour pains. The 17-year-old was told not to return until the pains intensified.

She said the news of the Mali family’s tragic experience had encouraged her to tell her story too.

Linda Mangena said that if it had not been for the help of ambulance staff and local residents who arrived soon after the birth, she feared she might have lost both her daughter and her grandchild.

“The security guards couldn’t be bothered. They kept on opening and shutting the gates, but none of them even came out to help us. Thoko gave birth immediately (when) we got to the gates. The car we hired was actually dropping us when she started to give birth. Everything happened so fast.”

She said her daughter was still on her feet.

“I just grabbed her by the shoulders to lower her body. There was no one to hold the baby so she fell on the floor. I screamed for help from the security guards to come out or call the nurses. But the way they looked at us was as if they couldn’t hear a word of my appeals.”

However, other residents did respond to her screams for help and arrived with blankets for the baby.

“All this time the security guards were just staring at us from the other side of the gate. They only brought a wheelchair after being ordered to do so by the ambulance staff,” Mangena said.

“It was the most horrifying experience, especially when my baby’s head bounced off the ground,” said Thoko. “I thought she was going to die.”

In respect Unabantu’s death, the Anti-Eviction Campaign’s Twalo said that if the staff at any of the three health-care centres had taken the time to examine him, “he could have been saved”.

“Their attitudes are the problem. This is what we experience from people who call themselves professionals.

“They are supposed to be responsible for everyone’s heath.” The baby had been suffering from prolonged vomiting and diarrhoea.

The organisation was to seek legal advice today from Human Rights lawyers. “The family has welcomed our support and we will be with them every step of the way until criminal prosecutions have been carried out,” Twalo said.

They would also help the baby’s grandmother, Ntombizodwa Mali, 62, who could not access her pensioner’s grant because her identity document stated that she was born in 1970.

“It has prevented her from getting her grant. There is no breadwinner in the house, the family is utterly destitute. We are with them, there to console them,” Twalo said.

Meanwhile, the Cape Metro Health Forum’s spokeswoman, Damaris Fritz, has said it is time to “seriously assess” the health-care situation in the Western Cape.

“It doesn’t seem like the Department of Health is serious about health care. They are aware of the problems, but they are not doing anything about it,” she said.

Fritz said she knew of another similar shocking incident at a health-care facility last month. After being turned away from a clinic and told to go to another one further away, the woman gave birth in the clinic’s toilets.

This weekend Fritz said she had received a call from a community member who reported that his mother had been admitted to a state facility on Saturday and was still lying on stretcher this morning.

Health MEC Marius Fransman has launched an investigation into the Mali death, warning that heads would roll should negligence be established.

At the weekend, a third family revealed that their one-month-old daughter, Somila Tshangatsha, had died after being turned away from Zibonele Clinic. She had had a raging fever but the family said a nurse had just touched her, then said she did not have a fever.

Fransman’s spokesman, Eric Ntabazalila, said his office was aware of the Mangena case after hearing the details from local leaders during a visit to the Mali home on Friday.

He had immediately called the facility manager to investigate.

“We are expecting a report today. After getting the full details of what happened we will then take things further,” Ntabazalila said.

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