Clinic too small for community
Many patients reliant on state healthcare accept that they have to go to government health clinics where they will have to queue for hours to get assistance.
This is a reality for the people of Tembisa who, despite living a few streets away from the clinic, have to wake up at dawn to queue outside Erin Clinic in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni before the gates are even open.
Asthmatic Palesa Seerane 19 woke up at 4am to be first in line on a chilly winters morning.
“I arrived just before 5am because I know that coming to the clinic usually means queuing for the entire day if you come in later. I felt unsafe walking in the dark alone, but what choice do I have?”
Elizabeth Ledwaba 56, suffers from hypertension and also woke up in the early hours.
“It is very painful having to wake so early just to collect medication. Me coming to that early means that I can at least be done by 10am so I can then catch up on some sleep.” Ledwaba said patients who miss their appointments get served last.
Mpolaeng Makhavhu 59, was concerned about the safety of his sister and her six-week-old baby and opted to queue on her behalf.
“I thought it would be better if she came in later in the morning because her baby is too young to be outside in this cold weather. I am also coming back later in the week to collect my medication and I am dreading the fact that I am going to have to queue outside the clinic again.”
Ekurhuleni Municipality spokesperson Themba Gadebe advised patients to not arrive at the clinic before it opened.
“Operating hours of the clinic are from 8am to 4.30pm. Patients are asked to not come to the clinc before it opens in order to prevent unnecessarily extended waiting times. All patients are attended to until the clinic closes.”
Gadebe said the City had implemented the National Integrated Clinical Service Management Model in which patients were booked and files pre-retrieved to save time.
“They are sorted into three streams to reduce waiting times and streamline the queuing systems at clinics. The three queues are maternal and child, chronic and acute streams. Patients are continuously educated to ensure compliance with appointment dates. Some patients do not adhere to appointments and are constantly reminded to do so.”
Patients have also raised concerns about the small size of the clinic, as most end up queuing outside once the clinic opens. They want the municipality to extend it so it can accommodate everyone in the area.
“It is wrong that we have to queue outside while there is vacant land next to the clinic. We are hoping that the municipality can extend the clinic,” said Ledwaba.[quote float=right]Patients have also raised concerns about the small size of the clinic, as most end up queuing outside once the clinic opens. They want the municipality to extend it so it can accommodate everyone in the area.[/quote]
Makhavhu, on the other hand, wants the municipality to build shelters where patients can queue when the clinic is full.
“The shelters could be helpful especially during the rainy season because currently, the clinic cannot accommodate everyone.”
Gadebe acknowledged that the City was aware that a bigger clinic was needed in the area.
“The adjacent vacant land belongs to a private owner and it is not for sale, as the owner is planning to build houses.”
On concerns about slow service delivery due to staff shortages, the City said there was adequate nursing staff at the clinic. “The nurse-to-patient ratio for January to June 2018 was 36, which is slightly above the norm of 35 patients per nurse per day. The waiting time is below the two hours threshold on average, and no patients are sent away from the clinic,” said Gadebe.