EDITORIAL | The grim truth about Tembisa hospital cannot be ...

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EDITORIAL | The grim truth about Tembisa hospital cannot be buried

While province’s response is a step in the right direction, hospital isn’t showing willingness to change its ways

Editorial

A Sunday Times colleague ended up in the casualty ward of a private Johannesburg hospital in December for a non-Covid-19 illness. As she was wheeled into the emergency room in the dark hours of an early morning, a nurse waited at the door. “Welcome to our emergency ward!” he said, before adding: “We will help you get better.” She would later recall the bizarreness of the moment but also how it made her believe she was in good hands.

The anecdote from our newsroom came to mind as the health ombudsman released a report into the death of Shonisani Lethole at the Tembisa Provincial Tertiary Hospital on Wednesday, exposing a vastly different reality.

Lethole was certainly not made to feel welcome when he was admitted. In fact, the 34-year-old did not see a shred of food for 43 hours and 24 minutes after his admission to the hospital on June 23. His situation did not improve after that. It took almost 70 hours before two registered medical practitioners assessed Lethole’s condition for the first time since his admission. He died after sending health minister Zweli Mkhize a “mayday” tweet in a desperate bid for help...

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