Midwife attacked in clinic after patient delivers stillborn baby

14 November 2018 - 17:01 By Nico Gous
A midwife at the Ramokonopi Community Health Centre in Ekurhuleni was attacked multiple times by family members of a patient who delivered a stillborn baby at the clinic.
A midwife at the Ramokonopi Community Health Centre in Ekurhuleni was attacked multiple times by family members of a patient who delivered a stillborn baby at the clinic.
Image: Yuriy Klochan / 123rf

A midwife at a Katlehong clinic was allegedly physically and verbally assaulted three times in 12 hours after a patient delivered a stillborn baby at the weekend.

Lebohang Khumalo, Ekurhuleni’s regional secretary of Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), said on Monday that the patient arrived at the Ramokonopi Community Health Centre on Saturday about 8.30pm to give birth. She was accompanied by her husband.

"Around 10pm they started beating the midwife after discovering that the patient had delivered a stillborn baby."

The clinic phoned the police and the couple left when they arrived.

"Immediately after the police left, these people came with more people to attack."

Khumalo said the father returned on Sunday morning around 5.30am to get the patient file and attacked the midwife again.

The midwife is about 50 years old and Khumalo said she received treatment and counselling.

"She doesn’t have any open wounds, but she has body aches here and there… mostly in her torso and arms."

Denosa said on Monday it was withdrawing its nurses from the clinic because they were in danger, and claimed they had complained to health authorities for more than two years.

Khumalo said the clinic had 76 nurses, of which 61 were Denosa members. The union claimed clinic security personnel had failed to protect employees.

"The security company... is incapable of ensuring the safety of members,” it said.

Khumalo said nurses were attacked at least once a month.

"It’s often people who are drunk. We are sending a message to the community that it’s them who lose out if they fail to look after these services. As we speak today (Monday) there are no services running at the clinic."

Gauteng health department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka said security upgrades were being finalised and should be completed by Thursday.

"When the clinic reopened on Tuesday, eight nurses from sub-districts and the district office were deployed. In total the clinic was functioning with 11 nurses. Family medicine also deployed seven doctors to supplement the four who reported for duty as per their schedule."

Matuka said the department condemned attacks on the dedicated professionals "who ensure we stay healthy and need to be protected and not be subjected to abuse by the communities".

He added: “Every such attack has a domino effect. Such attacks not only endanger healthcare providers they also deprive people of urgently needed care.”

In 2016, nurses at the same clinic went on strike after a nurse was allegedly assaulted by the family members of a patient.

The night shift duty nurse was attending to a patient who had his intestines exposed after being stabbed on a Saturday night. The nurse had decided to prioritise the stab victim over another patient.

Ekurhuleni health district chief director Nongezo Mekgwe said at the time that the family members of an elderly patient assaulted the nurse after she told them that their loved one was not in a critical condition.

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