Response to a social media post of a child sleeping on floor at Tshilidzini hospital

Limpopo department of health has noted with serious concern the story circulating on social media of a child lying on the floor at Tshilidzini Hospital. The department wants to assure the public that the matter is receiving the necessary attention.

A team from the facility has already initiated its own internal investigation. The preliminary findings include the fact that this is a 5years old who was brought to the hospital by both parents with a history of the injured toe while playing soccer.

According to the hospital records and the interviews done with the mother, the child was seen by the doctor, who ordered an X-ray which was done. The child was in the company of the mother during this entire process until when they came back from the X-ray and were waiting in casualty for the doctor to review the x-ray.

It was at that time that a security guard who was clearing the casualty, which was overflowing, asked the mother, together with all other escorts, to wait outside.

It is a known fact that the casualty at Tshilidzini usually overflows over weekends due to increased numbers of people visiting the hospital majority being cold cases, not necessary emergencies and the inadequate infrastructure.

It is unfortunate that in the process of clearing the congestion in casualty by removing everyone who is not a patient, he, unfortunately, removed even the mother to the minor, and this we are attending to.

Security personnel are not health professionals, and clearing the congested casualty meant well so that the health professionals could have a conducive space.

At times when the casualty is busy, nurses and doctors get more focused on dealing with the resuscitation of P1 and P2 patients and don’t have the rare opportunity to advise security guards on such cases.

The child was left alone on the chair while the mother waited outside with other escorts, and in the process, the child fell asleep, which was noticed by the same security guard who immediately called the mother to come inside.

It’s unfortunate that instead of the mother assisting her son, she then decided to take a picture and send it on Facebook. The baby was seen by the doctor, who reviewed his X-ray and was then discharged because his injuries were minor.

The department acknowledges the complaints from social media, and due processes are being followed in order to redress.

The process of redressing the process will include educating the public on the following:

1. Weekends are reserved for emergencies only, and we operate with skeletal staff; hence we appeal that in order to avoid delays and congestion, cold cases are advised not to visit our hospitals during the weekends.

2. Cases will be triaged upon arrival and be seen in terms of priority. The child, after being assessed, was found to be a P3; hence he had to wait while the doctor was attending to P1 and P2. Unfortunately, if we use first come, first serve, P1s and P2s will convert to P4(death) and P1 while we are still attending to P3s.

3. Parents or guidance must understand that at no point must they agree to leave their children unattended when in the facility unless the baby is undergoing a procedure which we need to protect the mother from emotional trauma. If such incidents occur where a security guard asks them to leave, they must approach a unit manager who will urgently attend to them. They don’t need to wait for this to happen.

The department has already contacted the family, and the redress process has been initiated. Further action will be informed by the final report from the investigating team.