My daughter was born 5 weeks early by Caesarean section at Good Hope hospital and spent 5 days in the neonatal unit. Both the maternity ward and the neonatal unit were excellent and I received wonderful care from dedicated staff who worked really hard.
After being sent home, the midwife told us to return to hospital, to the Harvey Ward because my daughter had jaundice. We arrived there at 4pm and saw 6 different people who kept asking the same questions: what was her name, what were her circumstances, how premature was she, even if she was a girl or a boy. I was very upset at having had to return to hospital and in a lot of pain from my operation. I was worried about my daughter who had had lots of problems due to her early birth and I hadn’t slept at all for the past 5 days. I was crying and one of the doctors snapped, ‘What are you crying for? This is nothing, you’ll have loads more to worry about in her lifetime so stop being silly. ‘
At 7pm we were shown to a room and told to undress my daughter, which we did. The nurse said she didn’t have an eyemask for the photo therapy machine so she was going to get one from downstairs. 2 hours later, with my premature baby still undressed, my husband went to find her. She had forgotten to get the eyemask so went to get one then. Finally at 9: 30pm, my daughter went into the photo therapy machine. They then tried to get my husband to go home. I couldn’t even lift my baby due to my operation and she had to be taken out to be fed every 3 hours. I was so depressed and crying I begged with them to let him stay and they finally agreed.
About an hour later, another nurse came in telling him to leave which started me crying again. Eventually they let him stay. Each time I took my daughter out for a feed, she had to have her eyemask taken off and put back on again. None of the nurses on the night shift knew how to attach the eyemask. My husband had to do it and then we weren’t sure whether we were doing it right and whether we could cause permanent damage to her eyes if they weren’t covered properly.
The first night under the photo therapy machine was a nightmare. There was a thick layer of dust on the top of it and flies kept crawling out of it into where my baby was lying. We spent the whole night swotting massive flies that kept crawling out of the light at the top of the machine. The room was dirty and the chart on the wall said that the cleaning had last been done at the beginning of June (we were there in August. ) We weren’t kept informed about anything; we didn’t see anyone for ages and they wouldn’t tell us what was going on.
Having had our first awful night, I was very emotional and crying again (believe me, I’m not the sort of person who cries easily at all) and the same doctor came around, sighed and said, ‘Are you crying again? ‘ Not once did anyone check to see if I may have been suffering from postnatal depression. I had to top up my baby’s feed with expressed milk to ensure she was getting enough. They had one breastpump that was passed all around the ward. I had to feed every 3 hours yet they kept on taking the pump away from me and it would be 6 or 7 hours before I got it back, even after ringing the bell to tell the nurse I needed it.
On the 3rd day I phoned the midwife and told her I was taking my daughter out of the hospital. In my opinion care we received appalling and the flies and dirt were disgusting. Students were being sent each time to take my daughter’s blood out of her foot and they didn’t know how to do it so it was taking over half an hour with her crying and in pain. One of the nurses overheard me and suddenly, another doctor was brought in to explain what was going on (in what I found a very patronising tone). This doctor also seemed very unhappy to be called in to keep me informed about my daughter.
The food was awful – one day it was cottage pie, gravy and peas but they didn’t have any knives or forks or even a spoon so they just left me with a dinner I couldn’t eat. I am not the type of person who complains but I still have nightmares about the place and my daughter still won’t allow anyone to touch her feet.
After this experience I wouldn’t want to return to the Harvey Ward.