Village Clinic: TAC pressure sees minister step in

Village Clinic: TAC pressure sees minister step inA temporary structure was erected after a settlement between the health department and TAC. (Archive photo)

Ongoing pressure and threatened litigation from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has led to the construction of a temporary clinic in Lusikisiki and confirmed plans to build a permanent state-of-the-art day hospital.

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Temporary clinic
Temporary clinic

Ongoing pressure and threatened litigation from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has led to the construction of a temporary clinic in Lusikisiki and confirmed plans to build a permanent state-of-the-art day hospital.

Village Clinic has been in the news since last year when the Eastern Cape health department failed to pay the rent, leading to staff and patients being forced to use a tented facility with no privacy, security or shelter from the elements.

Health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has sidelined the provincial health department – started the erection of a temporary clinic, tabled plans for a new permanent clinic and requested that the TAC withdraw the matter from the court roll.

The TAC has the plight of the Eastern Cape community in the spotlight with the Eastern Cape Health MEC making a number of promises he failed to deliver on.

TAC secretary-general Vuyiseka Dubula said Village Clinic was “just another example of lack of leadership by the Eastern Cape health department”.

She said TAC was outraged by the conditions of the tented clinic, which had no infection control measures, privacy or toilets.

She said efforts to engage the provincial department of health were hopeless and they opted to take them to court.

Dubula said Motsoaledi indicated he would intervene within days of receiving the legal papers, but “strangely the provincial department of health has not approached us for a settlement so we are waiting for their response to our lawyers letter.

“Village clinic is just another example of lack of leadership by the provincial department of health,” Dubula added.

According to sources the final straw for Motsoaledi was information that the province was planning to erect park homes at a staggering 24 times what it was costing to erect similar structures in other National Health Insurance pilot districts. Lusikisiki falls within the OR Tambo district, one of the NHI pilot sites.

An angry Motsoaledi reportedly demanded an explanation from the MEC, but opted to take over and dispatched Muhammad Shaker, whom he appointed to oversee all infrastructure-related projects.

Motsoaledi sent a letter to TAC Chairperson Nonkosi Khumalo last week confirming among others that the national health department “would take over the matter from the Eastern Cape Department of Health”.

The letter also revealed that the national health department had appointed a service provider on June 17 and four days later a concrete floor slab had been poured with the erection of the temporary structure starting on June 25 and expected to be complete this week.

The equipping of the temporary clinic and support services including water, electricity and sewerage will be completed by the end of this month, according to Motsoaledi’s letter.

The minister added that the site handover for the permanent large day hospital would take place on October 7, with the construction completed within 8 to 12 months.

According to the plans divulged my Motsoaledi, the temporary clinic will be 90 square metres, under one roof, with four consulting rooms, waiting rooms, an area to monitor “vitals” such as blood pressure and other tests, a store room and toilet facilities.

The plans for the permanent 165 square metre clinic are similar in design and size to a day hospital.

It will include an emergency section with an emergency room and a two bed ward; a maternity section with one maternity room and a delivery room; a general section with eight consulting rooms, one counseling room and a treatment room; a TB section with two counseling rooms and a room for sputum collection; separate waiting rooms for TB and general patients; a medicine store and dispensary; designated areas for medical and general waste; vital rooms and storage areas; a reception and records area; public and staff toilets as well as a toilet for disabled patients. The plan also commits to fully equipping the clinic with medical and non-medical equipment.