Tasha Kisten mourned her husband and held his funeral without his body being viewed by the family after they were told he had died of Covid-19.
Now the Merebank widow is still in shock after receiving her husband Pragalathan’s results, which showed that he was Covid-19 negative.
In a letter to Wentworth Hospital seeking answers, Kisten said it was with great pain and suffering that she had to follow up on the manner in which her husband was handled at the hospital.
“My husband Pragalathan Kisten – a right-hand amputee – was admitted to Wentworth Hospital on July 31, 2020, and passed away on August 3 because of negligence at Wentworth hospital. On July 25, Kisten fell, face down and, after the fall, he was experiencing pain in his chest and ribs. We then came to Wentworth on the same day, at 9 pm. X-rays were done on his ribs and the doctor said there was nothing broken. She gave him a Voltaren injection and Ibuprofen tablets, and sent him home,” she said.
However, his condition worsened the next day and a Merebank general practitioner advised the family to do X-rays privately.
“The X-rays revealed that my husband had four cracked ribs as a result of his fall. A second X-ray showed fluid was building up in his lungs. After some reluctance to go back to the hospital, on Friday, July 31, the pain got worse and my husband was rushed to the hospital with a state ambulance at 4 am. The doctors advised us to take a blood test, X-rays, and a COVID swab. My husband was admitted in Ward D2, not explaining that it was a Covid-19 ward,” Kisten said.
On August 3, she was called and informed that her husband had died.
“Test results were pending, and I then started making funeral arrangements while at the hospital, under the impression it was a normal funeral and not COVID-19-related.
“We were informed by Wyebank Funeral Services that they were told by the hospital that this was a Covid-19 case and they had to follow the regulations. We were confused, and we still are. Due to this, my kids, myself, family, and friends could not see my husband’s face at the hospital or the funeral,” she said.
On August 7, she was told by the hospital that her husband had tested negative.
Wyebank Funeral Services director Lennie Reddy confirmed that his son had been turned away from the hospital when he went to fetch the body.
“When my son got to the hospital, he was told by hospital staff that Mr. Kisten was a COVID-19 case so he couldn’t handle his body without the proper gear. They later returned to the hospital with all the (protective) gear and that’s when the body was released. We were told outright that this was a COVID-19 case,” he said.
Reddy said hospitals were putting funeral directors in a challenging position in that they were giving information to them, and different information to bereaved families later.
“We are the last people to handle families’ loved ones if it’s a case of the virus, which calls for families not to view the bodies. We are taking flak when hospitals don’t do their jobs. If hospitals can do their part, we can also ensure that families bury their loved ones with dignity,” he said.
Health Department spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa said: “The department is prohibited by law from providing confidential clinical details in such matters. The department can, however, state that preliminary evidence is contrary to the claims made by the newspaper, and shows that the patient was kept in a ward for patients under investigation (rather than a ‘COVID-19-designated ward’ as alleged), which conforms to Infection Prevention and Control guidelines and standards.
“Hospital management has since reached out to the spouse of the deceased and invited the family to come forward for a meeting, where further clarity can be provided and any areas of concern can be dealt with.”