The Northern Cape Health Department says that “fortunately, the patient was found and returned to hospital”
FAMILY members of a 49-year-old Covid-19 positive patient want answers on how he succeeded in “running away” from the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley.
George Stemmer walked out of the isolation ward on Saturday night. The next day he was found assaulted and stabbed in Greenside near Beaconsfield after the family dispatched a search party involving members of the police.
He was readmitted to hospital on Sunday.
Stemmer was initially admitted to hospital on Thursday night last week.
Family members indicated that he was weak and experienced shortness of breath. They called an ambulance to fetch him.
Apparently, he was kept in the emergency ward overnight after the person who accompanied him to hospital was dismissed and told that there was no bed available.
Family members were informed on Friday morning that Stemmer had contracted Covid-19 and had been moved to the isolation ward.
His niece, Anastacia Jood, said they were informed about her uncle’s disappearance from the hospital on Saturday night.
“An ambulance and two police vehicles arrived at my home on Saturday night to give us the news that my uncle was missing. We started searching for him after opening a missing person’s case. We could not understand how and why a Covid-19 patient can disappear from an isolation ward where every movement is expected to be monitored,” Jood said.
“It did not make sense to us because my mother spoke to him on his cellphone on Friday and he seemed to be doing well. He sounded like he was in his right state of mind, but we could not get a progress report from anyone at the hospital, or see for ourselves how he was doing.”
According to Jood, they received a call from a member of the public on Sunday, who told them that Stemmer had shown up at his house.
“As soon as the person told my uncle (Stemmer) that he was calling for an ambulance, he ran away again. It was clear that he did not want to return to the hospital.
“When we arrived in Greenside he was nowhere to be found. However, we later received a call informing us that he had been seen in the area.”
According to Jood they found Stemmer in the same clothes that he was wearing when he was admitted to hospital.
His family said that the missing person’s case was closed and they received legal advice to take the matter up with the Northern Cape Department of Health.
The department said on Thursday that it deeply regrets the disappearance of a patient who was admitted to Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital on the weekend.
Department spokesperson Lulu Mxekezo said the circumstances of the patient’s disappearance are being investigated.
“Fortunately, the patient was found and returned to hospital. Due to patient confidentiality the details of prognosis and treatment are only discussed with family members; suffice to indicate that the patient is stable,” said Mxekexo.