Woman speaks out after mom not tested for COVID-19 at St Augustine's hospital

It’s not known if the patient did, in fact, contract the virus at the facility after being admitted for cardiovascular problems.

Netcare St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban. Picture: Google maps.

JOHANNESBURG - A Johannesburg woman is demanding answers from Netcare after her mother was discharged from Durban's St Augustine’s Hospital, after which she tested positive for COVID-19.

The woman's 49-year-old mother was initially admitted on 1 April for cardio-vascular problems but was discharged three days later.

This happened while the hospital was in the midst of a COVID-19 crisis after 48 staff members contracted the virus. The hospital has been subsequently closed.

The Johannesburg woman, who prefers to be addressed by only her first name, Kristal, told Eyewitness News on Wendesday her mother’s fragile health was further compromised at Netcare’s St Augustine’s Hospital because she was not tested for the coronavirus.

“The sister in charge of the ward that she was in said they did not have enough testing kits for all the patients and that if she had not been in contact with someone who had COVID-19 or recently travelled abroad and had symptoms, then she did not need to be tested.”

It’s not known if the patient did, in fact, contract the virus at the facility, but Kristal said after her mother was discharged, she was readmitted to another Netcare facility, Kingsway Hospital two days later, where she tested positive for COVID-19.

“My mother’s condition is critical at this stage. She’s had chronic illnesses for close to 15 years now.”

Netcare has been accused of not putting proper health protocols in place.

In response to Kristal’s family’s complaint, it said a decision to discharge any patient was always a clinical one made solely by the treating doctor and as such, hospital management was not involved.

The hospital network said since the patient did not present any COVID-19 symptoms at the time of her admission, it was determined she did not need a test.

Netcare is not the only private healthcare group in the spotlight while it deals with COVID-19.

Mediclinic’s Morningside hospital has had to implement a partial shutdown and is taking the no admissions after four of its patients and 15 staff members tested positive for the virus.

The hospital introduced strict access measures on Tuesday after 12 staff members were initially infected.

The hospital's chief clinical officer Stefan Smuts said more than 100 potential contacts had been tested and the majority of them were negative.

“We cannot, unfortunately, 100% say how the staff member contracted the virus.”