A sick man and his wife who arrived at Port Elizabeth's Livingstone Hospital casualty division in the early hours of Thursday morning were received by a man drinking a quart of beer, and who appeared to be intoxicated, Netwerk24 reported.
The wife, who prefers to remain anonymous, said her husband collapsed at their home in Port Elizabeth around 01:00 on Thursday. She then rushed him to hospital.
"This man with the beer was the first point of contact at casualty where patients are admitted. He was behind the service counter, but incapable of doing anything. He was still drinking his beer right there," she said.
According to the woman, a file has to be opened before a patient can be examined by a doctor.
"There I was, with my husband unconscious in a wheelchair, and standing between me and the doctors is a man who can't even open a file."
Matric exam markers arrive drunk or smelling of alcohol
Moments later, a doctor arrived, seemingly to complain about a previous patient's file.
The woman then told the doctor that her husband required urgent medical attention. The doctor assisted her husband, while a nurse took over the paperwork.
"What would have happened if my husband had to wait any longer? I was afraid he would die there.
"The doctors and nurses were very helpful. Now this one guy [at reception] is tarnishing the whole hospital's image."
Lwandile Sicwetsha, Eastern Cape health department spokesperson, told Netwerk24 that the department was aware of the incident and was conducting an internal investigation.
On Monday, he could not provide information regarding the man's position at the hospital.