Namibia: Private hospital denies dumping patient

7 Apr 2020

The Lady Pohamba Private Hospital has denied allegations by the health minister that it dumped a Covid-19 patient at a state hospital.

Health minister Kalumbi Shangula accused one of Namibia's biggest private hospitals of not informing the government when it transferred the patient last month.

He said the patient was carelessly dropped by an ambulance driver at the Windhoek Central Hospital who may have tried to avoid being infected by the virus that has killed thousands across the globe.

Lady Pohamba Private Hospital general manager Hannelie Botha denied the allegations.

“I think the minister doesn't know what really happened. We informed them [the health ministry], and they sent the ambulance [to collect the patient]. If they were not informed, why did they send their ambulance?” Botha asked The Namibian on Wednesday.

She added the private hospital followed guidelines provided by the health ministry dictating Covid-19 patients should be transferred to the state.

“We called them [and] they sent a committee [from the health ministry] of three members here. They got the details, and also called the medical officer who was working with them,” Botha said.

According to her, it took the committee five hours to plan the transfer of the patient to the state hospital.

“They said I must send the patient to the Robert Mugabe Clinic. It [the instruction] came from the medical officer, and that is what I did,” Botha added.

She insisted the allegation of dumping the patient at the Windhoek Central Hospital was not a fair portrayal of what happened.

“We worked with the doctors who came here. The ministry of health sent three doctors to assess the patient. They wrote the medical script to be followed on the other side, not my doctor. So, I don't understand where this is coming from. We followed their advice at that stage,” Botha said.

Private medical facilities have faced allegations of trying to steer clear of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, but Botha said the private sector wants to help.

“The guidelines said patients must go to a state isolation unit. We didn't have an isolation ward at that stage. But after a meeting with the government, they made it clear we have to prepare one as well. That is why we converted one ward into an isolation unit for Covid-19 patients,” she said.

She insisted at the time the involved patient tested positive they could not risk introducing a Covid-19 infected patient to the hospital.

“There were 121 patients in the hospital. I had to protect them,” she said.

The hospital currently has 152 beds.

Botha said: “Lady Pohamba Private Hospital really wants to take everyone in Namibia by the hand – the public, the ministry of health and the private sector, because we're facing a crisis and we have to work together.”

Shangula told The Namibian on Saturday he was not impressed with the way the patient was brought to the state hospital.

“The Lady Pohamba Hospital just decided they are no longer going to accommodate the patient. They put the patient in the ambulance and said 'go to the ministry'. Nobody knew there was a patient coming,” he said.

According to him, people at the hospital were confronted with an unexpected situation.

“The ambulance was there with the patient. They had to make quick arrangements to take the patient in. The [ambulance] driver just came, went up the elevator and dumped the patient in one of the wards. It was very risky. It is true people were not prepared,” he said.

The minister yesterday said he received this information from his officials.

“That is how it was reported to me,” he said.

He added private hospitals are now assisting the government.

“That was probably an incident that happened at the beginning. They are even opening up facilities to assist [Covid-19] patients,” Shangula said.

Source : Namibian