Despite having a clinic close to them, patients who visit Nyanga Community Health Centre claim to struggle to get help at the facility. Those who called Vukani to complain, said the facility literally sent patients back home irrespective of their illness after a certain time of the day or after the day’s allotment of numbers has been given out.
The centre opens its doors at 7.30am. But by the time it opens, throngs of people are already queuing outside.
People allege that queues start as early as 4am because each one wants to be in the queue to get a doctor. Numbers are given to patients up to 50 depending on the volume the doctor want.
On a cold Thursday July 13 morning, Vukani followed up on the allegations that people queue from as early as 4am. At 5am there were six patients, patiently waiting inside the meat stands near the clinic and in those right next to the clinic.
The newspaper was also following up on the claim that patients are turned away. People said they have to risk their lives in a crime-ridden area to go queue.
Hidden between the green trees next to the Zolani Centre, the local facility provide a variety of healthcare services, including child health, general HIV care, family planning, sexual transmitted disease assessment and treatment, basic antenatal care and antiretroviral services.
Nosipho Kulate (not her real name) said she was living with diabetes and had complications last Tuesday and turned away because there was no doctor. She said on arrival at the facility at 7am, the queue was too long. “The problem is the areas that we live in. You would try to get out of the house before 6am in some of our areas. Crime is very rife. People are robbed. But we do risk our lives and get out early. I would take that chance of getting out too early because Zwelitsha is very dangerous,” she said.
She claimed to have been number 55 and after 10am the doctor and nurses allegedly refused to treat her and others saying the only doctor who was there was overworked. “We tried to negotiate but nothing came our way. But this is not the first time something of that nature happens. We were only taking chances. This is an everyday thing. Mind you we wake up very early to go queue,” she said.
On Thursday morning Nophelo Mvimbi said it was her second time in that queue. She said she could not make the list the previous day. “I told myself I need to be early today. This facility is a problem or the people working here are a problem. Nurses will tell you it is not their task to hire staff and doctors but that of the government. You must come here during tea time, theirs is an hour long. The staff is rude and have no patience for people,” she accused.
Sicelo Sintu who accompanied his sister said people are having it difficult in Nyanga. “People are in danger of being robbed or die at home. Something needs to be done here. If a family member is sick, we all have to accompany that person. Remember you are not only risking your life but you might come back to an empty house,” he said.
Vukani approached the Department of Health and Zimkhitha Mqubeni, the spokesperson for Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, for a response to the claims made by users of the Nyanga Community Health Centre and although they promised to respond, they have not done so at the time this edition went to print.
Pic1: cn re nyangachc1.jpg: At 5am last Thursday, Vukani found people already queueing to get the doctor at the Nyanga Community Health Centre.
Pic2: cn re nyanga2.jpg: Despite the safety risks, patients who come early to Nyanga Community Health Centre seek shelter in these meat stands.