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Health MEC to probe actions of paramedics


It does not matter how long it takes, I will find the right steps to follow to take action against those paramedics, vows girlfriend

THE NORTHERN Cape MEC for Health, Mase Manopole, has apologised to the family of George van Schalkwyk, who was allegedly refused help by personnel from the Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) this week, and has appointed a committee of inquiry to investigate the incident.

Manopole visited the Roodepan family yesterday, accompanied by the spokesperson for her department, Lebogang Majaha.

Expressing her condolences and apologies to the distraught family for the traumatic experience they were forced to endure, Manopole stated that a committee of inquiry had already been appointed and promised that she would personally come back to the family within two weeks to give them feedback.

Van Schalkwyk was fatally stabbed on Saturday night just a few metres away from his home in Jacksonville.

The family called for an ambulance but alleged that the paramedic just gave a cursory glance at Van Schalkwyk, who was lying on a bed, and said they should leave him to rest.

Early the next morning, Van Schalkwyk’s girlfriend, Faith Hoogstander, who had climbed into the bed next to him, realised that he hadn’t moved, rushed to call the family, who on inspection, realised that he was dead.

The same EMS crew responded to the second call-out.

The family has blamed the paramedics who responded to their emergency call for Van Schalkwyk’s death, accusing them of “not checking or touching him”.

Manopole yesterday promised “to leave no stone unturned” regarding the alleged behaviour of the EMS personnel.

“One life lost is one too many,” Manopule said, adding that the family should not have lost a loved one is such a manner.

She praised Hoogstander for her strength and bravery in speaking up about what had happened and bringing it to the attention of the public and authorities.

Manopole’s visit to the family came in the wake of a DFA report earlier this week in which the family described how EMS personnel had allegedly failed to treat Van Schalkwyk, who had two stab wounds, one in his head and the other in his back.

The family yesterday again poured their hearts out, describing to Manopole how they would have felt better knowing that Van Schalkwyk had died after some effort was made to save his life.

A devastated Hoogstander, who was on the scene on the night of the stabbing, broke down yesterday as she vowed to take steps against the paramedics.

The family asked the MEC why the EMS personnel had arrived in the first place if the staff were not willing to save lives.

“It does not matter how long it takes, I will find the right steps to follow to take action against those paramedics,” Hoogstander said.

“What disgusts me even more is that the one who refused to even touch him (Van Schalkwyk) later lied to my face and said that the patient had refused treatment and said he was okay.

“He is lying, the last words Van Schalkwyk said was to tell my sister that he was going to lie down. That was long before the ambulance arrived,” she sobbed.

“They failed him, they neglected him even when I told them that he had an open wound on the head.

“The least they could do was to come closer, remove the bandage and inspect the wound. Even a normal person could have done that.”

According to her, she was surprised that the paramedics never got out of the ambulance with their first aid kits, on both occasions.

Hoogstander further highlighted the possibility that Van Schalkwyk’s “snoring” when the ambulance arrived was probably his last gasp.

The MEC promised the family that she would get to the bottom of the matter.

“This is not acceptable but we will get to the bottom of this matter as everyone’s life is important,” said Manopole.