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Coronavirus 'safety gear shortage' threatens to close Phoenix clinic

A woman wears a raincoat and protective goggles to help reduce the chance of contracting the coronavirus at a local clinic in South Tangerang, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

A woman wears a raincoat and protective goggles to help reduce the chance of contracting the coronavirus at a local clinic in South Tangerang, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

Published Apr 1, 2020

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Durban - Doctors and nursing staff at the

Phoenix Community Health Care

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Centre on Tuesday apparently stopped

attending to patients because they did

not have adequate safety gear such as

gloves and masks to protect them from

the coronavirus. 

This was however denied by the

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Department of Health.

The centre, run by the department, operates 24 hours and has a total of 20 beds.

Phoenix Proportional Representative Councillor  Samier Singh said he visited the clinic on Wednesday and everything was back to normal. 

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On Tuesday, a Phoenix resident said she was waiting in the queue when she was informed by others that the centre was closing. She also saw nursing staff leaving the premises.

Democratic Liberal Congress leader Patrick Pillay said he had received a number of complaints from patients, young and old, who waited at the centre from 4am but were never treated. Pillay said he first heard about the staff grievances on Monday.

“When I contacted management I was told that everything would be in order. On Tuesday, management was locked in a meeting after health-care workers refused to continue working. Apparently the personnel have refused to assist the patients, hence these people were left waiting,” he said.

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Pillay said it was sad that hundreds of patients could have become victims of the coronavirus due to the alleged ineffectiveness of the health department in not providing the necessary health safety tools for the centre staff.

“Patients have incurred transport costs so that they may pick up their chronic medication. A number of patients left the centre, including some elderly people, because of the uncertainty of being seen by the doctors.” .

Health spokesperson Ntokozo Maphisa denied that patients were turned away and that the centre was shut.

Maphisa said senior management had addressed all concerns raised by staff over the availability, use and disposal processes concerning personal protective equipment, and that all staff had resumed duty.

“The department apologises for the temporary disruption to normal service delivery due to an unforeseen challenge. Medical and surgical masks have been made available to all front line staff in the province."

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