Mitchells Plain Hospital says it has undertaken a thorough investigation of the family’s concerns. Picture: Tracey Adams
Mitchells Plain Hospital says it has undertaken a thorough investigation of the family’s concerns. Picture: Tracey Adams

Wife had to sit in the car at husband’s funeral after allegedly getting Covid-19 from his corpse

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Sep 27, 2021

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Cape Town - A 65-year-old widow in Cape Town said she and her children were infected with Covid-19 after they were allowed to touch her dead husband in the hospital where he succumbed to the virus.

Carol Benjamin said that as a result she had to sit in the car on the day of her husband’s funeral while some of her children could not attend.

The incident occurred on July 4 at the Mitchells Plain Emergency Centre. Benjamin said she suspects that she and her family may have caught the virus then and that this prevented them from attending the funeral.

The department admits their Covid-19 guidelines were not adhered to in this case and that “the hospital managers have prioritised the information from this complaint and are implementing measures to help prevent similar episodes in the future.”

Provincial Health spokesperson Monique Johnstone said: “The medical manager of the emergency centre has been in contact with the family and addressed their concerns.

“Neville Benjamin was transported to the Mitchells Plain District Hospital’s Emergency Centre (EC) via the ambulance on July 4 at 8.19pm while presenting with Covid-19 symptoms, including acute shortness of breath, and triaged as an emergency case.

“He was provided with the best medical care by the attending doctor who was present throughout his care in the EC Covid-19 area and during his last moments while conducting his medical investigation.

“Mr Benjamin’s Covid-19 pre-screen and test conducted at the emergency centre was positive and he was treated in the Covid-19 area,” said Johnstone.

Benjamin said: “They said we can go and say our last goodbyes and took me and my son to a room where he lay. What I noticed was that there was no sanitiser, but we kissed and touched him, his body was still warm like someone who was sleeping.

“Shortly afterwards I received a phone call from someone who identified herself as a doctor at the hospital, who told me that my husband had actually died from Covid-19 and that me and my children must immediately isolate for 10 days,” she said.

On July 13 Benjamin said she fell ill with suspected Covid-19, as did her three children and as a result the funeral was postponed to July 17, but her children were too ill to attend, while she had to sit in a car and watch.

She said her husband had received his first Covid-19 vaccination three weeks prior to his death.

In his letter to the family, which the Cape Argus has seen, specialist emergency physician Dr Clint Hendrikse said he had undertaken a thorough investigation of the family’s concerns.

Dr Hendricks said: “I have dealt with the matter appropriately and took into consideration all factors documented in this report. Corrective actions and appropriate support and training were implemented to all staff members involved, but also the whole emergency centre as a department.”

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