With the increased number of patients forced to use Marantha Clinic in Brandfort, staff members are overwhelmed.
Apart from the increased workload, the clinic has also been operating without a supply of drinking water. According to a local councillor, Tihedi Moahi the clinic has been operating without water because the Jojo tank was burnt last year during a community protest.
A data clerk at the clinic, Mapaseka Mokwena, tells OurHealth that she used to register fewer than 80 patients a day and most were already captured on the computer system. Now she says she registers over 180 patients a day. "The workload is too much and I have to drink painkillers every day because my body cannot take it anymore. If they [Department of Health] say I should resign today, I will gladly do so," says Mokwena.
According to the Free State Department of Health, the working hours of staff at Marantha Clinic were increased from eight hours to 11 hours a day. The Department maintains that "with the co-operation of booked clients, patient flow is manageable".
Difficult working conditions
According to staff, patients also aren't making it easy for them to do their work. Moahi, who is also the chairperson of the clinic committee, says clinic staff are complaining about the noise that patients make inside the clinic.
He says nurses aren't able to concentrate and face intimidation when they ask the patients to speak more softly.
"The noise is too loud for the staff and there have been incidences of nurses who were insulted by patients." However, the Free State Department of Health says no complaints were received from the clinic staff about patients being unruly.
Free State Department of Health spokesperson, Palesa Matee, says a local area manager is responsible for visits and goes to the clinic every second week.
“The area manager receives daily reports from the clinic and the alleged incidents of nurses being insulted were not reported to her or the district management," she says.
Staff who spoke to OurHealth say those visits aren't enough. "They don't care about us, none of them has ever finished a day here to assess the challenges. They only expect a report every Friday. Where do I get the time to write a report? They don't care," says Mokwena.
How patients are coping
While staff have their difficulties, so do patients. Long queues and waiting periods are discouraging the people from accessing the health services, forcing many to walk away. Some patients are forced to travel the extra distance only to receive pain killers.
A 19-year-old matriculant residing at Deep Level section, who wished to remain anonymous, says she walked away without consulting a doctor because she "was too hungry and bored to wait any longer in the queue".
Another patient, Dimakatso Moholo, from Phahameng section says she waited six hours when she went to collect her treatment.
"At Vaalrock I was just going in and out; waiting periods are longer here," she says.
Jemina Tladi who lives in Matlharantlheng section says patients who collect medication like herself, should go to the clinic on their booked date otherwise they will only be helped after five in the evening.
According to Matee, the department has no intention to increase the capacity of Marantha Clinic nor do they have plans to rebuild Vaalrock Clinic.
"There is no intention to increase the capacity of Marantha Clinic as the clinic is still coping in this regard. With all resources of both clinics consolidated as one at Marantha, nothing has suggested the need to increase capacity," she says.
Matee says Marantha Clinic has eight professional nurses on duty each day spread over six consulting rooms and each professional nurse sees an average of 17 patients each day.
– Health-e News
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