Gugulethu Community Health Centre has come under fire for keeping patients waiting for hours, only to later turn them away without the necessary help.
It is alleged that, on Monday July 31, scores of patients were turned away without help and clear reasons. Some were allegedly ordered to return the next day, while others were given later appointments. This, after they had spent the entire morning waiting in the line.
A livid KTC woman, Phumza Roto, says she was forced to go home without treatment after spending more than six hours at the facility. This, not without putting up a fight.
In an interview with Vukani at the facility, on Tuesday August 1, she said she decided to visit the facility after developing a body rash over the weekend.
The 25-year-old False Bay College student said she sacrificed her classes to get help. But things turned horribly wrong when she arrived at the facility, just after 8am.
The queue was already long but Ms Roto joined it and waited until after noon. No contact was made with them until they complained.
She said while waiting in the line, she decided to call the Department of Health’s help line, and registered a complaint. She said she was advised to talk to the facility manager.
Ms Roto claimed that the facility manager initially refused to assist her, but later helped. She said when she returned to the queue a receptionist ordered a handful of individuals to move to a waiting room, where they were told of staff shortages.
After spending about 10 minutes in the room, she said they were sent to another room, where someone filled in a notice form.
They then moved to yet another room where a nurse examined them.
Based on the person’s condition, the nurse would give a date for Tuesday August 1 or yesterday Wednesday August 2.
They would then return to the reception for an appointment sticker. “I do not have a problem with being sent home. But they should have at least informed us on time, not make us wait here the whole day only to tell us to go home,” she said. “They are treating us like idiots. The fact that they still managed to put us through this process suggests that they could have as well helped us.”
Visibly upset, Ms Roto said she would have to miss another day of school, and hopefully she would not be told another tale.
“When I came here I was hoping to get treatment,” she said. “But it appears I am going to spend another day in the line.” Despite having been given an appointment for 10am on Tuesday, she only received her treatment around 3pm.
Another patient who was turned away on Monday was Asaduma Solani.
The restaurant employee said she was disappointed by how they were treated. She said she was worried about how and when she would get help.
She had handed the appointment card given to her on Monday for Tuesday to a friend to take to the clinic, but was informed that she had to come in herself for the treatment.
“It is very difficult for me to take leave at work. I am going to have go to a pharmacy and spend money although there is a clinic here,” she said.
Spokesperson for the Department of Health, Monique Johnstone, apologised for any inconvenience encountered by patients at the facility. She said it operated with less staff due to various reasons, however, nurses at the facility worked tirelessly to render service to patients.
“Gugulethu Community Health Centre currently has four doctors off duty due to family responsibility related issues and illness which does put strain on the workload for other staff members,” she said.
She added that management at the facility had put plans in place to maintain a good patient experience.
“This is not an ideal situation and management is trying to manage the situation with the staff capacity they have for this week,” said Ms Johnstone.
She encouraged patients with difficulties at the facility to report to the facility manager. She said regular management meetings were held to solve problems at the facility.