Hospital staff accused of ignoring birth on their doorstep

A woman is said to have given birth in the Helderberg Hospital car park when medical staff allegedly refused to help her.
Image: Google Street View

Hospital staff allegedly refused to help a young woman in premature labour who ended up giving birth in the hospital car park.

Gordon’s Bay resident Anoux Massey said emergency department staff at Helderberg Hospital in Somerset West ignored her despite her bloodied hands when she repeatedly begged for help.

“I told them there’s a lady in my car about to give birth and I don’t know what I’m doing,” Massey told TimesLIVE on Wednesday.

“I was covered in blood, I was covered in everything. I stood there with blood on my hands and said I don’t know what is happening to this baby.

“When the baby came out the cord was wrapped around its neck. I unwrapped the cord and ran back in [to the hospital]. I told them the baby has been born, the cord is around the neck, can somebody please help. Nobody came out.”

The baby did not survive, though it is unclear whether it died before birth.

Massey said the 30-year-old mother was the wife of her long-time employee who lives on their property. “She is part of the family. She is completely catatonic at the moment.”

The Western Cape health department, however, said the mother had been attended to on arrival at the hospital on Monday.

“The midwife did attend to the patient on arrival, as can be seen in some of the pictures which have been circulating,” the department said in a statement.

“She was admitted and checked for birth injuries, placed in a private room and her husband allowed to stay with her. She was also fully counselled by our social worker and, at discharge, neither the patient nor her husband raised any formal complaints.

“The patient was not denied help. The maternity ward is adjacent to the temporary emergency centre and the response was as fast as possible. A trained professional midwife was contacted to come and assist the patient.

“Hospital management is awaiting statements from the emergency centre staff involved. We have confirmed with the midwife that she was called from the emergency centre to come and assist with the delivery, which she did.”

The mother reportedly had stopped feeling fetal movements in the morning and started getting pains before arriving at the hospital.

“This means that the baby may have passed on at least six hours or more prior to going into labour and prior to arriving at the hospital,” the department said.

But Massey insisted hospital staff were negligent despite the emergency situation in the car park, and said the ward did not appear to be busy and had available beds.

She said only the security guard had helped her when he offered to go in search of a doctor. “Eventually the maternity ward people came out,” she said, adding that by then it was too late.

“It’s the kind of thing one sees on Grey’s Anatomy, not the kind of thing you think could happen to you.”

by Bobby Jordan