On Friday the 20th November, my 14 year old son became ill with appendicitis and was admitted to Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town. He was in a huge amount of pain, and tests confirmed that he would require an appendectomy to remove the appendix.
Hospital rules apparently stipulated that he required a negative Covid test result before surgery could be performed. Whilst I believe that he was not in immediate danger of his appendix rupturing, he was still in a lot of pain and was made to wait almost 19 hours before the surgery was performed the next day.
On Friday night, whilst waiting for his Covid test result, he shared a room with a very elderly and frail gentleman, someone who would definitely be at risk from Covid-19.
The sheer lunacy of the situation caused me endless frustration! My child was made to wait for hours, on a cocktail of pain medication, and endure an extra and unnecessary night in hospital (paid for by medical aid) because of the miniscule risk that he may pass on the virus to theatre staff (who would be covered in PPE anyway), should he indeed end up testing positive following surgery.
And yet, there he was, spending 19 hours in the same room as someone at very real risk from the disease, separated by a thin curtain, and neither protected by any form of PPE. Whilst the care he received from both hospital staff and his surgeon was outstanding, the situation calls into question the sheer stupidity of the rules.
My son is at negligible risk from Covid-19. His risk from a ruptured appendix was many times higher. The risk to the elderly gentleman was even higher than that (although, if positive, being completely asymptomatic, my son would have passed on miniscule amounts of the virus, if any).
The agenda behind the fiasco is hard to decipher, although more money for the hospital and companies producing the tests is surely a reason. One thing is certain though, the health and well-being of both a young man and a elderly gentleman were not considered when any of the decisions and rules were made!