Hospital accused of negligence

Peter and Pamela de Beer

The daughter of an elderly couple, who claim to have lost a set of wedding rings at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, has accused the hospital of negligence.

After spending almost a month at the Pinelands hospital for a pre-dementia assessment in October last year, Pamela de Beer, 79, of Retreat, realised she had forgotten her wedding ring set at the hospital when she arrived at home, said her daughter, Heidi Henry.

Her father, Peter de Beer, had immediately contacted the hospital to say he would pick up the rings in a few days, but then, unable to, he had asked Ms Henry to do so.

According to Ms Henry, when she got to the hospital, a man went to fetch the rings in a medication-storage room that only nurses have access to, but he’d been unable to find them and had called the nurse in charge.

“The sister was frazzled when she received the call,” Ms Henry said. “She eventually called me to say she was disappointed in what had happened and would keep me posted on their investigation. This took several weeks of phone calls to apologise. She said she was going to get a company to do a polygraph test on the staff. At the same time, she asked for a quotation for the rings so that they knew what they were working with.”

Ms Henry said two nurses she had met with December had told her that five hospital staff had been given polygraph tests, but then the case appeared to have stalled, and she accused the hospital of dragging its feet.

Meanwhile, she said, her mother had asked her to buy Christmas gifts for the staff, as they had taken great care of her.

Ms Henry said that by January she had lost all patience with the hospital.

“All I got was arrogance and a ‘couldn’t care attitude’, showing no remorse or any compassion.’’

She said that in February the hospital had told the family it was not responsible for the loss as it had a clause that noted patients were responsible for their valuables.

“I get that, but one of the staff signed for the rings and took it from my mom. During a meeting with the two sisters they eventually said the hospital would cover the excess. I was like ‘are you crazy?’ My parents are 80 years old, and they cannot afford to replace the rings.”

Ms Henry said the situation had still not been resolved and while she and her family were trying to work with her parents’ insurance to get a new set of rings, she felt the hospital was negligent and should have been more helpful. She said the rings had sentimental value which could not be replaced, as her mother had had the rings for 40 years.

Riaan Croucamp, a regional manager for the hospital group, said: “Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital is aware of the matter and is currently following protocol with an internal investigation.We understand that the loss of any personal item is distressing. However, we regret that we are not in a position to comment further at this time.”