A Tale of Two Hospitals

Tom gets burnt. Boiling water. I rush him to Westville private hospital. They don’t talk to him, they don’t look at him. My son is burnt! Is he on medical aid? You need to pay a deposit. Doctor reluctant to even get started. I have to snarl and tell them he’s my son and he’s on my medical aid before they give him attention. A very poor show.

But we all know private medicine in South Africa is “World-Class”, right?

Our friend Minneapolis hurts her leg, she heard it break as she turned on it playing netball. She has no medical aid, no insurance. I get a call, drive to Westville Girls High School and take her to King George government hospital. They immediately put her on a wheelchair and talk to her, x-ray her, re-assure her, bandage her, give her medicine and THEN ask for R20. A good show.

But we all know state medicine in South Africa is “Third World”, right? We all know you CAN’T go to a state hospital!

Other times, another two hospitals:

Aitch goes to Parklands private hospital. Small op, two nights. They give her a fierce infection. I see it happen. A nurse is putting up a drip. She’s battling. Another nurse comes in, wheeling a trolley. Seeing the first one battling, she drops the trolley and joins in, helps put up the drip. Nowhere have hands been washed. Aitch is in hospital six nights instead of two. Dose after dose of intravenous antibiotics finally control the raging infection. The UNNECESSARY infection. Thousands and thousands of Rands. Maybe the nurses were given a percentage of the extra profit?

But we all know private medicine in South Africa is “World-Class”, right?

Neil goes to Mshiyeni government hospital with a broken hip. He’s 88yrs-old. They check him, x-ray him, operate him, intensive care him, put him in the ward and look after him. No sign of infection. His hip stays cool and clean. The senior orthopod gives me his cell number. When I phone him he says “I’ll discuss with the prof and phone you back”. He does. Once I sms him and he sms’ back: “I’m in a conference in JHB today, but I’ll get the other surgeon to look at Mr Humphrey and he’ll contact you”. He does. They charge him nothing. He has paid for it the 50yrs he paid taxes.

But we all know state medicine in South Africa is “Third World”, right? We all know you CAN’T go to a state hospital!

I think: Westville and Parklands hospitals people should spend a day at King George and Mshiyeni hospitals. Especially their accountants and profit-sharing directors should spend a day in real South African hospitals. And learn. Maybe learn to spend less on marketing and PR and more on infection control and human care.

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