Hold staff accountable

Ellen Fedele, Plumstead

I am writing on behalf of a former pupil whose identity I wish to protect as I do not wish her to receive any backlash from this issue.

Unbeknown to her, she had a very serious urinary tract infection, as the usual first symptoms were not present. After she described how awful she was feeling, I urged her to go to Lady Michaelis straight away, but they turned her away (as per usual, if you are not there before 1 pm and don’t have an appointment, they refuse to help you).

She went early the next day and had a few tests done after a long wait – the nurse pronounced the diagnosis of a UTI; the doctor came into the room, skimmed the file and agreed.

She was given 500mg of an antibiotic (six of them) and that was it. This did not even touch sides.

Three days later, she was feeling worse than ever. I sent her a very stern voice note and told her to call an ambulance immediately and to go to Victoria Hospital.

A family member took her through. There it was discovered the UTI was still present and she was given 1g of penicillin twice a day. Luckily this worked and she is now finally on the mend.

She went back to Lady Michaelis for a follow-up and the results of the tests done at Victoria Hospital, and she asked for blood to be taken to see if her kidneys were okay as she had been sick now for nearly two weeks but was told there was no time for that.

Really? It takes less than a minute for a vial or two to be drawn from a vein. She was treated as harshly as ever, but this time she stuck up for herself and was accused of being disrespectful – this is ludicrous as I know this young lady well and she is not rude.

Respect is earned, not given – especially not to people who are supposed to be care givers and supposed to treat people with dignity and love. So many professions in which caring should be part of the person (doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers) are attracting all the wrong kinds of people who are just interested in the pay cheque at the end of the month and not the people/children with whom they have contact daily.

I can vouch for the “couldn’t care” attitude when I went to enquire if I could fetch medication for a homeless man who has no transport, obviously with the necessary affidavit that he allowed me to do this, etc.

The woman behind the counter barked back at me in such a vicious tone, I nearly jumped.

Lady Michaelis staff need to be held accountable by the Health Department for their appalling lack of professional skills. I do not hold out much hope though – you cannot instil love and care into people, nor passion for their jobs.

It’s either in them or it isn’t. In this case, it most definitely is not.

Natalie Watlington, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Health, responds:

The Western Cape Department of Health prides itself in rendering quality medical care to all patients presenting at our facilities.

We appreciate the concern being brought to our attention and request the author to provide us with patient-specific information so we can look into the matter.

We urge all clients that if the level of care they received is not satisfactorily to bring it to the facility manager’s attention while they are at the facility. This will allow for the concern to be addressed immediately.