A 61-year-old Sasolburg man has been left angered and fearing for his life after being told he has to wait until 2020 before he can have surgery at a hospital in Kroonstad to treat his debilitating condition.
Joseph Morake had already waited seven months for November 30, the initial date of surgery given to him in April this year at Boitumelo Regional Hospital to alleviate the severe swelling in his scrotum – a condition known as bilateral hydrocele.
“To my understanding, if left untreated, this swelling could lead to a hernia or even prostate cancer.
“I already had anxiety throughout the seven months waiting for the surgery meant for last month … At my age, it really isn’t easy. And the swelling was getting enormous, making it difficult for me to sit or even use the toilet,” Morake told City Press this week.
But to his surprise and horror, Morake said on the long-awaited date of surgery he and a group of about 14 other patients were “rudely dismissed” by a team of health practitioners at the hospital, who told them that their surgeries would not be conducted that day.
Morake and others were given a new date of February 13 2020, and even then they were allegedly told surgery wasn’t guaranteed.
City Press has seen Morake’s hospital card, in which the 2020 date is stated.
“Three doctors came to us as we waited in the hospital passage – neither our blood pressures nor any of the regular tests we are used to were done. This very young lady doctor arrogantly told us we could go home.
“After one patient who had had a nasty operation done on her stomach complained of being turned back yet again, this doctor told us we could get upset all we want but the fact was we were going home,” he continued.
Free State Health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi confirmed that patients were given the 2020 dates because of the “overwhelming number of patients to be operated on” and the limited resources available.
“Boitumelo Hospital is one of the overburdened public health facilities in the province. It is located on the N1 and has to be responsive to various types of emergencies. This hospital sees an average of five to six complex emergency surgeries every day of the week,” Mvambi explained.
“We are sympathetic to the patients that have to wait long before they can be operated on, while others have to be taken off the roster for surgeries.
“We know that it can be frustrating, but the public needs to know that we have their best interest at heart. Patients were given dates for elective surgery in 2020 because of the very long waiting lists for elective surgery.”
Mvambi said Boitumelo was the only hospital in the Fezile Dabi district, with a population of about 520 000, which had the capacity to do such operations, resulting in the “abnormally high numbers” of patients awaiting elective surgery.
Mvambi said disciplinary action would be taken against the doctor Morake alleged was rude and dismissive, adding that Morake would also need to lodge a formal complaint with the hospital so they could follow proper investigation procedures. He also said they were working on recruiting more specialists in the district.
Morake said himself and the other patients asked to be referred to another hospital, but were refused.
“It’s obvious to me that we were sent home to die. There was a lady there with breast cancer and who needed her breast to be removed. She too was given a 2020 date.
“There are so many people dying because of situations like this. [Doctors] just look at us like we’re old people who are illiterate … I’m not even sure if I’ll be alive in 2020.”