A newly built Simunye health care centre at Simunye township in Westonaria.040 Picture: Matthews Baloyi 6/19/2012


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A MUCH-needed clinic was opened in Simunye, Westonaria – but the hundreds of patients queuing to be attended to had to use the nearby bushes if they wanted to relieve themselves.

The toilets at Simunye Community Health Centre were locked as there was no water in the area.

One of the two attending doctors is on a month’s leave and the two security guards meant to man the gates were absent, so patients and motorists went in and out of the facility without being searched. The guards were inside the facility.

The Star Africa Edition reporter, who complained about chest pains to a nurse, was given painkillers, told to do a traditional ceremony for her ancestors to help get rid of her pain and told to go.

An elderly patient, who uses a walking stick, said she had no choice but to relieve herself in a nearby bush because the toilets were blocked.

However, the R4-million clinic is clean and well maintained.

It was opened on Friday by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane who declared that the health facility was built to “alleviate accessibility to health care and contribute to the reduction of long queues and waiting times”.

This was not necessarily the case when The Star Africa Edition team visited yesterday.

Patients complained about waiting for more than five hours to be seen by a nurse or a doctor.

The patients did not know where to line up.

Some patients found themselves having to line up afresh on another queue because they found themselves in the wrong one.

There were three queues – one for mothers with children, another for patients with chronic illnesses and the third for another group of mothers and children.

“You hope and pray you are on the right queue, if not, then the nurse or doctor who attends to you won’t send you packing to the correct queue,” said one woman with a baby strapped to her back.

If it wasn’t the long queues, it was the coolness of the building.

“I am freezing to death,” one patient said stomping her legs on the floor to warm her feet. Next to her was a wheelchair-bound elderly man wrapped in a blanket.

And it was not only the patients who complained.

A nurse said she was overworked as she was on double shift, covering for a doctor who was on a month’s leave.

The reception area was congested and the five administration clerks, who chatted to each other while attending to patients, were friendly and helpful.

The dispensary was manned by one person, making the waiting time at the pharmacy longer and even more unbearable as there was not enough chairs for the patients.

Among other services, the Simunye clinic offers immunisation; male medical circumcision; HIV counselling and testing; ante-natal care and family planning.

Asked what the Department of Health will do with the water supply problem, spokesman Simon Zwane said the entire area had been affected.

He referred The Star Africa to the Westonaria municipality, who could not be reached for comment.