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Calls for the long queues at Macassar Community Health Centre to be addressed

A queue outside the Macassar Community Health Centre. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

A queue outside the Macassar Community Health Centre. Picture: Mthuthuzeli Ntseku/Cape Argus

Published Mar 23, 2022

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Cape Town - Macassar community leaders are demanding that the provincial Department of Health address the many complaints relating to long queues outside the area’s health centre that the elderly, disabled and children are subjected to.

This follows three separate incidents in which clinic staff were allegedly assaulted by patients due to frustrations caused by queues.

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A patient allegedly assaulted a clerk outside the gate of the health centre after he allegedly provoked the client.

The patient had allegedly waited for approximately two hours outside the gate before he could go in for his physiotherapy appointment when the clerk allegedly refused him entrance for being late.

On the same day, another fight allegedly broke out between a security guard and another patient who was also waiting in the queue. Another incident occurred when a staff member was slapped in the face, also by a patient outside the facility.

The leaders also called for an immediate end to the practice of patients carrying chairs around when moving from one department to the other, saying it was not scientifically proven that it stops the spread of Covid-19 and had no purpose.

Health activist and professional nurse Debbie Myburgh said if previous concerns were addressed at the time they were initially reported, such incidents could have been prevented.

“The people of Macassar have been patient for years. It was not fair to drive them to a point where they start verbally and physically assaulting staff members due to their frustration.

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“This could all be avoided through proper management, listening to the patients, treating them with respect and dignity, rendering the services as per health regulations, and following the protocols that were drawn up by the department,” she said.

Myburgh said the department’s policies indicated that the elderly, sick, minors, and people in wheelchairs are prioritised, but this was not implemented in many cases.

“As soon as the gate opens in the morning, people must enter the premises after showing proof to the security that they need to attend the clinic for services.

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“If the department is not part of the main building then gazebos should be erected for people to be safe from rain or extreme sun,” she said.

The Greater Macassar Civic Association said for the past three to four years it has been bumping heads with the administration of the Macassar Day Hospital as well as their higher authority about how patients are treated at the health centre.

“We are concerned because our most fragile people are not treated in a dignified manner,” the association said.

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Western Cape government communications officer for the Khayelitsha Eastern Sub-Structure Abulele Dyasi said in an effort to address long waiting times and queues, the department implemented an appointment system.

Dyasi said currently the average waiting time at the Macassar Community Health Centre is 2 hours and 25 minutes for non-urgent cases.

Dyasi said the department also encourages clients to make appointments and arrive 30 minutes before their appointment slot to avoid longer waiting times.

“Due to our efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19 in indoor spaces, we are also limiting the number of people inside the facility at a time, which can also lead to more people waiting outside,” she said.

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Cape Argus

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