What shocking disgusting service from this hospital and their doctors, only reporting this now as they have been diddle daddling in getting back to us and now they have wiped their hands clean of nearly killing my father by overdosing him!!! And then bullying myself and my elderly mother!!! Becareful of this hospital and their doctors. They have ruined my fathers brain because of the morphine and narcan and when they operated on him they created 3 new hernias in his belly which are excrutiating!!! They should be paying for his expensive hernia belt to assist him to be more comfortable. You should all be ashamed of yourselves because all you wanted was to keep billing him to empty his medical aid, its all about money to you all!!!
In Nov 2021 my husband started experiencing dizziness and confusion and after 2 weeks, on Mon Nov 29 I took him to our GP Dr Lizette Engelbrecht at Medicross Tokai. She immediately said he was bleeding somewhere internally and his haemoglobin test showed 5 which she said is too low and he needed to be hospitalised immediately. She suggested Melomed Tokai or Vincent Pallotti but preferred Vincent Pallotti as she knew people there. Now I realise I should have chosen Melomed, not just cos it’s closer to where we live but I’m sure we would have got better more professional and compassionate care there for my husband and for us as his family.
We presented at Emergency that evening with the letter from our dr and waited quite a long time before my husband was seen to. The dr who attended to him was the most amazing person and was so kind and helpful and I thought if the rest of the staff was like that everything would go well. Unfortunately I was totally mistaken.
By the next morning he was having blood transfusions to normalise his haemoglobin levels and the staff said he was still confused but coping.
I rang to see how he was and he was in Ortho High Care. I went to visit and he was awake but still quite confused. Dr Govender rang that week to say his initial scan was all clear but later rang to say it hadn’t been read properly and there was something in the abdomen. Now I will always wonder what other scopes, scans and X-rays were misread??? I authorised the scan and X-ray and the scopes he needed as they said he was not able mentally to agree to anything. They said they could maybe see bleeding ulcers in the tummy during the first colonoscopy and actually had to repeat it and then they found the bleeding mass in the colon. Dr David rang me that Sat to say if biopsy proved malignant he would remove it and resect the colon but had to discuss it with me and another family member as it’s a big op and quite expensive. I found this remark quite distasteful to put it mildly. The med aid must have okayed it cos when Dr Govender rang me again she said Dr David had scheduled it for the following Wed but I knew nothing about that.
She rang on the Mon to say his MRI was clear and I was shocked cos that was only scheduled for after biopsy results but she said they had an open slot so she did it without my knowledge. She also did an EEG without my knowledge or permission so once again I was not happy. In the following days my husband had 2 lumbar punches as well that I never authorised or knew about till after the fact. I find this very disrespectful and inconsiderate. All these tests proved negative but as long as the med aid is paying who’s counting???
A specialist had to examine the spinal fluid so yet more claims.
He was in Poplar Ward by now and the staff there were incredibly kind and informative and helpful. A nice psychiatrist was also checking on him and discussing his confusion with me. When asked, she said she didn’t have him on any meds. Dr David had decided to delay the op until my husband was less confused and understood what was wrong with him and what was to be done about it. At this point he was getting more lucid day by day and we were all happy about that.
His op was then scheduled for the Tue and Dr David assured me all would be well and he’d be home for his birthday on 23 Dec and for Xmas. The op did go well and Dr David rang right away to say everything was fine and from a surgical point of view everything was 100%. He said would keep me updated but I only heard from him the following Mon after nagging the nurses to get him to ring me.
I visited my husband on the Wed in High Care and he was fine, just a little sore which I thought normal for the day after his op. Thursday morning he rang me and our daughter and was happy and alert and feeling much better. That was the last we heard from him. We spent the whole day and half the night trying to contact him and reception kept putting us through to High Care but the calls went dead. We were very worried and I was certain something was wrong and only fell asleep at 4-30 Fri morning. My daughter discovered that High Care had been closed due to not enough patients and he was moved to Ortho High Care once more. How does reception keep connecting us to a closed ward and why are we never informed when he is moved??? And why are patients shuffled around so much???
On Fri I went to visit and nearly collapsed when I saw him lying unconscious on the bed, his mouth hanging open to one side and on oxygen. That dreadful older nurse with grey hair was writing in his chart and told me he’s just sleepy. He never opened his eyes or felt me touch his hand or heard me call him. I said to the other nice nurse that he looked like he’d had a stroke. She immediately rang Dr Govender for me and this is the only way we knew what had happened. He’d been given morphine - why 2 days after the op I’ll never understand - and had such an adverse reaction they had to revive him with Narcan. I was totally shocked cos I’ve only heard of overdoses in addicts being revived this way. I said to her he looks like he’s had a stroke and she immediately said they’d do a scan that day to check. I was so scared something terrible had happened and all everyone could say was he’s sleepy!!! That same nice nurse told my daughter in confidence that she was worried about him and my daughter spent the night crying and then crying with relief when they rang to say the scan was clear and his brain ok. I want to know who authorised this morphine and why I wasn’t informed about it before and after it was given to my husband. I would like to charge that person with assault and negligence as my husband’s recovery was now put back 100% and I was totally sick and tired of him being subjected to all sorts of tests and repeats of tests and being moved all over the hospital and now the morphine debacle which I’d never have known about except for the nurse who helped me and Dr Govender who was at least honest with me. We never want to go through stress and sheer fear like this ever again.
That weekend was terrible cos the nurses got irritated that we were phoning so often to check on my husband and insisted he was sleepy from the anaesthetic until my daughter informed them about the morphine incident which they knew nothing about. I’m therefore surmising it was not in his medical notes and am hoping this is not some sort of cover up.
My husband eventually woke up enough to be conscious and now needed a speech therapist to help him swallow, had a nasal feeding tube inserted, a catheter, had a physiotherapist helping him and let’s not forget the dietician -all this extra expense for our med aid and more upset for him. He was perfect after the op but now was a weak invalid unable to do the most basic things, even wash himself. I find this most disgusting and distressing and never imagined the medical profession could cause such harm to a patient.
On the Mon Dr David finally rang me to say all was ok and they were having to be careful about my husbands pain management - still no mention of morphine. He informed me he was going on leave and Dr Sonday would be checking on my husband and keeping me updated. He emailed me a letter giving me permission to visit my husband as all visits had been cancelled due to covid infections rising again. Now my husband was in Medical ICU, yet another move.
When I visited on Mon I was horrified to see the same older grey haired nurse working in the ICU and my husband looking so weak and sickly with all sorts of drains and catheters and pipes in and out his body - now a week after his op and he’s worse than the day after - totally NOT acceptable!!! That same day Morton & Partners rang to say an emergency scan had been requested but the med aid fund for scans was now depleted and would we be liable for the R10, 000 it would cost. Of course I said under no circumstances would I authorise any other scans or procedures that we would be liable for. Dr Govender rang to say they really needed to do the scan as my husband was vomiting and they thought he had an infection and she would organise it pro bono. She later rang to say no infection just an ileus which was causing constipation which in turn caused the nausea - yet another needless test that we would have paid for for nothing. We had actually researched this anyway and knew before it happened that an ileus is pretty normal after colon surgery and usually sorts itself out given time. Thank goodness my good sense prevailed and I refused to be responsible for payment of a scan that was definitely for nothing. At the same time Dr Govender informed me she was now going on leave - so nice that these people had earned their money, made their mistakes and now went on leave while we were still up in the air worrying about my husband and he was left alone on his birthday and Xmas.
As the week progressed my husband made small amounts of progress and some of the nursing staff got very rude and confrontational with us when we rang to check on him. They laughed at us and put the phone down in our ears and refused to take the phone to my husband and were really downright nasty. My husband later told me they were rough with him and actually hurt him at times. He now started begging us to take him home and I told Dr David, Dr Govender and Dr Sonday we were fetching him on Thu 23 Dec as it was his birthday. They all said the same thing, that they don’t advise it but can’t stop me as long as I sign an AMA which I was totally willing to do. Everyone was so excited that he was coming home. Our grandchildren made welcome home posters and my daughters organised a nice lunch and birthday cake and we had jelly and homemade chicken soup for him as we knew he was on soft clear foods. My daughter had borrowed a zimmer walker for him so we were well prepared.
When I arrived that afternoon all of a sudden the email from Dr David permitting me to visit my husband was a problem and not correct. They finally said ok and I went up to Medical ICU to find my husband still hooked up to everything even though that morning I had asked he be ready for me to take home. I asked politely would they disconnect him and help me dress him in the clothes I’d brought and bring me the form to sign to release him. They all ignored me and my husband started saying maybe he should stay, whereupon I started getting angry and asked him why he begged us to fetch him that morning and now he’s changing his mind, plus was he really going to be away from us for his birthday and Xmas after I’d been managing alone for 5 weeks keeping everything going and doing food shopping and making sure rent and other debits were paid with my granddaughter’s help, plus worrying about him every single day. I wasn’t eating or sleeping and had migraines every day and lived on pain pills and nausea pills. I was totally mentally and physically exhausted and if not for my daughter I would not have managed. She is a single mother with 3 children and was also juggling work and school and helping me and taking me to the hospital while she was also worried sick about her father. We weren’t exactly throwing parties and enjoying ourselves during this trying time.
I then left the ward and was sitting outside with my daughter when a gentleman - a Mr Buthelezi - who said he was the ward manager, arrived and invited us into his office. He was kind and patient and professional and was busy taking our statement of what was happening when suddenly 3 women burst into the room and rudely took over. An Asian nurse who never said a word, a large lady who was some sort of charge nurse or whatever and Dr Helen van Der Plas who immediately took charge, totally ignoring Mr Buthelezi, and held out her hand like a demented headmistress telling us she was speaking and we must basically shut up. This creature is the rudest most arrogant and therefore most ignorant person I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across. She is disrespectful, unpleasant, insulting, demeaning, dismissive, uncaring, self absorbed and bombastic and really should not be working with people specially vulnerable patients and their families who are in a constant state of worry for their loved ones. She is so convinced of her own self importance that she just won’t accept other people have feelings and opinions and that they are valid. She’s so proud that she’s been practicing for 25 years or whatever but forgets I’ve been married to my husband for 48 years and know much more about him than she does AND I’ll do anything for him because I love him and I want to, NOT cos it’s a job and I’m paid to do it.
She also had the nerve to ask how do we expect to care for him and that we definitely weren’t able to give him the care he’s currently getting and we should be kissing their feet for looking after him so well. So I mentioned the morphine/narcan incident and she immediately snapped that that is perfectly normal and happens all the time - well never in my lifetime ‘doctor’!!!
She absolutely refused to even consider that my husband had asked to come home and insisted he’d just asked to stay in hospital to get stronger and that it’s his body and he can make his own decisions and he definitely needed a few more days to recover. I remarked that was a change from when I had to make all the decisions and authorise procedures. This woman had also threatened to have security remove us and actually had some little twerp standing outside the room with his arms
I have never been so disrespected in my entire life and have never really trusted the medical profession - they are a necessary evil and now I distrust them even more. I do feel thankful that we have medical aid for emergencies but also believe when medical professionals see the words ‘medical aid’ their eyes light up with dollar signs.
I was done with this farce by now and left the room and went downstairs to my grandchildren who were in the waiting area. They were so disappointed grampa was not coming. A short while later my daughter came down crying her eyes out with anger and shock and disappointment. Following behind her was ‘Mr Security’ who was quite a joke as I would have taken him down quite easily if he had put his hands on us. I will never forget or forgive this woman for the harm she did to my whole family that day. I am 68 years old - a wife, mother and grandmother - and that excuse for a medical professional treated me like a piece of dirt under her shoe.
I now know why my husband was unable to make a decision and stick to it and why he was so suggestible and able to be so slyly manipulated by Van der Plas. My daughter and I had wondered why his speech was still a bit slow and he sounded a little dozy as we had been assured he was not on any sedating medication. Now I know van der Plas had prescribed and was giving him 3 kinds of anti psychotic and schizophrenia meds thereby rendering him totally suggestible to whatever she said. I can imagine she said if he goes home he’ll get worse but if he stays she’ll make sure he gets better. As he was totally lucid by now, no sedating drugs were necessary at all.
Two days later the phone rings early and when I answer I hear van der Plas all chirpy and friendly telling me my husband’s so much better. Two days ago she was so aggro, now all sweetness and light - maybe she needs the schizophrenia meds. I just rang off and refused to take calls from the hospital after that. My daughter kept in contact for updates on her dad and passed them on to me. She told me he was being moved now to Cedar ward and was starting to walk and eat and progressing at last. She then heard that on the Mon they were taking half the clips out the wound and on Tue the rest would come out and he could come home on the Tue.
Tue morning a call came from Dr Sonday saying there’s a problem to which I replied - when hasn’t there been a problem at that place. There was a bulge in the wound and he was back in theatre that evening to repair and reclip and would come home Wed. So much for a few more days in hospital being beneficial??? She said sister Natalia in Cedar ward said me and my daughter were welcome to come visit any time and I told her I would never set foot in that place again but would pass the message on to my daughter. She decided to go visit her father but I declined on principle. The procedure went well and we fetched him on the Wed and finally got him home. My daughter went in to fetch her dad as I absolutely couldn’t and wouldn’t go into that place ever again.
Then when I looked in his packet of meds at home there were more shocks. This damn van der Plas woman had completely changed his chronic blood pressure pills he’s been on for years while telling him our GP can’t actually prescribe chronic meds. She also told him he doesn’t need his chronic acid reflux pills and the ones I’d sent with had vanished, as had his sleeping pills. Fortunately I’d just handed a new script from our GP in at our pharmacy and have since got him the acid reflux pills and the sleeping pills he relies on. How dare she change his meds he’s been on so long. And I trust our GP totally as she’s been looking after us for years and she was first to say correctly that my husband was bleeding internally and Dr David confirmed that the colon cancer was bleeding. So now she gives new meds and I’m sure she didn’t contact the med aid to put them on chronic. But that’s not a problem as we’ll go see our dr and ask her advice as to whether he must go back to his old meds. Van der Plas had the audacity to write at the top of her script that it replaces all previous ones. NO IT DOES NOT and never will.
How did this woman get to be in charge of my husband and his meds??? She deals with infectious diseases so I’m not sure why she was so invested in this case and so obsessed with it. And she is not a psychiatrist so how can she prescribe hectic meds for psychosis and schizophrenia which are not even diagnosed. Dr David said the dizziness and confusion was from the massive blood loss and nothing mental. This woman should be charged with negligence and assault, giving my husband these dangerous meds for nothing - now I’ve truly seen the ‘god complex’ doctors are accused of, in action.
Needless to say I gave those meds to my daughter and said get them out of my house. She rang Dr David the next day and he was shocked at what was prescribed and didn’t know why and said my husband mustn’t take them, so they have been returned to our pharmacy and my husband is just fine without them. This woman has a lot to answer for.
I do realise nothing will be done about this complaint, I just want it on record what a dreadful time our whole family went through because some people don’t know how to treat others with respect and compassion. And please don’t insult me by saying I’ll get no money from this complaint as I dont want a single thing from, or to do with, Vincent Pallotti or anyone there.
Just a little FYI - one morning in the early hours my husband’s wound started oozing. Next day my daughter got me pressure dressings from the pharmacy, I cleaned his wound and redressed it and sent a picture to nurse Bev, who is a lovely caring person, and she said it looked good and was fine till we saw her again. So NO-ONE must tell me I am unable to look after my husband.
My daughter takes her father in for dressing changes with nurse Bev as I will never set foot in that place ever again as I previously mentioned. She will take him to his check up with Dr David then we will arrange his chemo. We will go to Melomed Tokai for this treatment as we all feel he will that he will get the best care possible there. Our med aid broker has assured us Bonitas has excellent oncology benefits and we must just register with them and send them the chemo schedule.
We will always appreciate the ladies and gentlemen who were kind and compassionate and did all they could to help us during this trying time. Of special mention is a gentleman named Manuel who was kind and caring and always pleasant and went over and above the bounds of his duties to help us. Unfortunately they will always be overshadowed by the not so caring people who remain in one’s memory far longer. We still suffer many unresolved issues because we fought so hard for my husband then he goes against what he told us and makes us look like idiots as well as disappointing and hurting my daughter terribly, specially after she went to so much trouble for his birthday. Plus he caused us to be subjected to van der Plas & Co and their extreme nastiness. Everyone expects me to just move on but I will be angry and deeply hurt for a long time, dealing with this woman causing such dissent in our family unit, specially at a time when we were all worried and trying to deal with my husband’s health and recovery. I hope she is suitably ashamed of herself and never does this to another family, though with her giant ego I fear that’s impossible.