By Ufrieda Ho
For five days after 18-year-old Kekeletso Kikilame had given birth, she could not wash herself or her newborn, as there was no hot water at the Dr JS Moroka Hospital in the Free State.
Worse though, says the teenager, is that the nurses had no empathy for her or the seven other women who were also giving birth in the hospital at the end of March.
“They kept telling us to get up and to go wash in the cold water. They didn’t even offer to warm up water for us,” says Kikilame, speaking through a translator at her home in the Thaba’Nchu.
She adds that the nurses ignored their pleas to close some windows when it was cold or to turn off lights when they wanted to sleep.
“You get cross, but you just keep quiet. Even today I’m angry with those nurses for how they treated me. Their attitude towards people is not right,” she says.
It was only five days after the birth, when her sister brought some flasks of hot water, that she was able to wash herself and her second-born, a boy she’s named Boikanyo.
Blood had clotted around her stitches making them painful to clean. She remembers being constantly anxious days after giving birth that she would develop an infection or that the health of her child would be compromised.
Sitting on her stoep with her family and neighbours she cradles her one-month old baby. She says she wishes she could sue the clinic. They should not be allowed to operate the way they do without consequences, she says.
At one time Dr JS Moroka Hospital was considered a top facility, locals say. It was especially well known as an excellent TB treatment facility, but that was many years ago. Today people call it a “mortuary” – you’re lucky if you come out alive, they say.
Kikilame she never wants to go back there if she can help it. She says she’ll tell her friends to stay away. Nobody should have to be subjected to the nurses at that hospital, she says.