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Day-and-night service at Joburg clinics ‘is what the doctor ordered’ Print E-mail
31 March 2017

Clinichours

This is great. I don’t have to skip lectures any more whenever I feel a bit under the weather,” says 21-year-old anthropology student Bongani Banga as he waits his turn to be attended to by healthcare personnel at the Princess Crossing Clinic in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg.

Banga, who is suffering from a bout of flu, is one of thousands of local residents who have been enjoying the benefits of extended operating hours at this newly re-launched primary healthcare facility since the introduction of the expanded services in a pilot project about five months ago.

The pilot project was launched by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba in October 2016 – two months after the new administration took office following the August 2016 local government elections – in recognition of the need to cater for residents who cannot access healthcare services during normal operating hours.

Since the launch, the clinic has been operating from 7am to 10pm, Monday to Friday and from 7am to 1.30pm on Saturdays, including public holidays. Following on the success of the pilot, the City will be rolling out extended operating hours to five more clinics around the city on Saturday April 1.

The five clinics are Freedom Park in Region A, Hikhensile (also in Region A), Randburg Clinic (Region B), Zandspruit Clinic (Region C) and Albert Street (Region F).

An increasing number of people, especially students and working adults, are taking advantage of the extended hours. 

Banga says he could not have asked for a much better, more efficient and convenient service. “I no longer have to be stuck in long queues in the morning or in the early afternoons when the clinic is too full with sick children, women and the elderly. The last time I was sick I came here after hours, at 8.45pm, and was home by 9.30pm,” says Banga.

Domestic worker Gladys Kani, 42, who is also battling a cold, agrees and says the clinic’s day-and-night service is what the doctor ordered. “I’ve been here after 4pm. This is a brilliant idea, especially for those of us who work. This arrangement suits me fine,” she says.

Kani says the service has also significantly improved at the clinic. “There are always nurses in attendance. The service is professional and efficient,” she says.

The clinic’s expanded service is so popular that it has even drawn patients from as far afield as Dobsonville and Braamfischerville.

Nombulelo Mdakane, who lives in Witpoortjie, several kilometres away, concurs with Banga and Kani. “The extended hours are a very good idea. In the morning the clinic is too full with mothers who have sick children or babies coming for immunisation. They should be given the space to get the service they deserve,” Mdakane says.

The clinic’s two managers, Thembisa Lote and Tumelo Phoma, say the number of patients visiting the clinic has grown significantly since the introduction of the extended operating hours. The staff complement has doubled and the clinic has two shifts. Each shift includes a manager, three nurses, a student nurse, a clerk and a cleaner.

Says Phoma: “Our numbers of patients have increased by about 26% – from 2 400 patients in October to 3 088 in February 2017. Every night we attend to between 30 and 40 patients. On busy nights we see up to 50 individuals between 4pm and 10pm.”

Lote says at night the clinic also deals with emergency cases such as stabbings. “When there is an emergency, we stabilise the patient and refer him or her to the nearest hospital,” says Phoma

The biggest concern that both the clinic’s personnel and members of the community have, however, is security around the facility. Banga says although the Community Policing Forum helps fight crime in the area, additional security was needed.

“They are only armed with whistles. There’s a serious drug problem here and we need better policing from SAPS and JMPD personnel to deal with crime, which is fuelled by drug abuse,” he says.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health and Social Development Cllr Mpho Phalatse is keenly aware of the problem. It was the same challenge that was raised by staff at the five clinics that will come on stream from Saturday April 1. “We’re looking at beefing up security and bringing in additional staff at all clinics,” says MMC Phalatse.

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Last Updated on 31 March 2017