Scandal community members said that they contacted the emergency services call centre numerous times, asking for an ambulance to be dispatched to collect a patient who was suspected of having Covid-19.
COMMUNITY members in Scandal informal settlement in Galeshewe expressed disappointment in the Northern Cape Department of Health after the alleged failure to dispatch an ambulance to collect a suspected Covid-19 patient.
The angry community members on Tuesday accused the department of “lying” about its ability to handle the spread of Covid-19.
Several community members said that they contacted the emergency services call centre on Monday, asking for an ambulance to be dispatched to collect a patient who was suspected of having Covid-19.
They were reportedly told to transport the patient to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital themselves.
A relative of the patient explained that they were afraid of “handling” the patient, who they said had Covid-19 symptoms.
“It is not that we do not care. But I have small children to take care of. That is why we preferred to call trained people to come for the patient,” said the relative.
The community members said that they had started calling for an ambulance at around lunchtime and had continued to do so until late at night.
They said that the patient was running a fever, looked dehydrated, was suffering from diarrhoea and was experiencing shortness of breath.
According to the community members, they first spoke to a female operator, who they said promised to send an ambulance. No ambulance arrived. They accused all the operators whom they spoke to afterwards of hanging up on them once they mentioned that they were from Scandal.
They added that they flagged down three passing ambulances, but the paramedics apparently told them they could not assist them.
Scandal community leader Lawrence Mkhwanazi said that the paramedics had informed them that they could only attend to patients following a referral from the emergency call centre.
Several community members also apparently approached the nearby Galeshewe Day Hospital, where they saw an ambulance parked.
They approached a nursing sister to assist with the dispatching of an ambulance, but the sister told them that they “don’t have control of the call centre operations”.
The sister also told them that they do not handle Covid-19 cases.
Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Lebogang Majaha said on Tuesday that the emergency call centre does not have any records of receiving calls from Scandal on Monday.
Majaha said that the family is welcome to lodge a complaint with the department.