Health Management OurHealth

Health comes home to East Rand elderly

Written by Thabo Molelekwa

After elderly and frail visitors at an East Rand drop in centre could not get to health services, the Gauteng Department of Health has vowed to bring the health services to them.

Matodzi Kwinda says she felt hopeless after losing her daughter and being charged with her three young boys. Villagers pulled together to help Kwinda access social grants to support the family (File photo)

Centre staff report that Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu visited the centre following Health-e News queries regarding services for the centre’s patron. (File photo)

Located in Duduza on Johannesburg’s East Rand, the Tshwaranang Elderly Day Care Centre provides care for about 80 elderly township residents who may not have anyone to look after them during the day. Just outside Nigel, the centre is located less than two kilometres away from the Duduza Clinic and the nearest ambulance station.

When Tshwaranang’s elderly need to be taken to a health facility and cannot walk, centre staff call for an ambulance. With long delays in ambulance response times, centre manager Refiloe Zwane says centre staff is often forced to drive their clients to the clinic themselves.

Zwane says clinic staff has been anything but welcoming.

“They shout at us that we must not bring patients ourselves (and that) we should call an ambulance,” Zwane told Health-e News. “But when we call an ambulance, it also does not come then we have to stay with sick patients because there is no where we can take them to.”

Centre chairperson Mbulelo Maqabane says transporting sick clients was also difficult given the centre’s small vehicle.

[quote float= left]When we call an ambulance, it also does not come and then we have to stay with sick patients because there is no where we can take them to”

In June, the Gauteng Department of Health announced that it would soon unveil about 50 new ambulances for the province. Despite these new additions, the province – like many others around the country – was far below national standards that would require a fleet of about 760 ambulances for the province.

Following queries by Health-e News, Gauteng Department of Health representatives visited the centre to apologise for poor service, according to Gauteng Department of Health Spokesperson Steve Mabona.

“We would like to apologise for any ill-treatment of elderly people at the Tshwaranang old age centre,” Mabona says. “We have since visited the centre to express our apology.”

Centre staff adds that shortly after contacting Health-e News, MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu visited their facility.

Mabona added that while ambulances will still need to respond to emergency cases, the department has registered elderly patients on chronic medication to receive their treatment at the centre. This should save them trips to the clinic.

Duduza Clinic staff will also visit the centre, he adds.

“We will also arrange for doctors to visit the centre in order to see patients there. This, however, will depend on the availability of doctors,” says Mabona, who adds that Duduza Clinic staff will also receive training in customer care as well as patients rights in an effort to improve services at the health facility.

About the author

Thabo Molelekwa

Thabo Molelekwa joined OurHealth citizen journalists project in 2013 and went on to become an intern reporter in 2015. Before joining Health-e News, Thabo was a member of the Treatment Action Campaign’s Vosloorus branch. He graduated from the Tshwane University of Technology with a diploma in Computer Systems and started his career at Discovery Health as a claims assessor. In 2016 he was named an International HIV Prevention Reporting Fellow with the International Centre for Journalists and was a finalist in the Discovery Health Journalism Awards competition in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Thabo also completed a feature writing course at the University of Cape Town in 2016. In 2017 he became a News reporter , he is currently managing the Citizen Journalism programme.You can follow him on @molelekwa98