Clinic in train is a hit

2015-02-11 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg railway station has become a hub of activity as ­residents pour in to receive primary healthcare services on the Transnet Phelophepa Healthcare train.

The train started operating on Monday and will serve the city for two weeks.

Among those who visited the clinic on wheels yesterday was Sibongile Mbatha (64) from Imbali, who said she had various ailments such as her ­eyesight, high blood pressure and sugar diabetes.

Lindelani Mwelase (62) of Snathing, who came in for dental care and her ­eyesight, said the service was ­impressive and much faster than the clinics she is used to.

“My teeth were cleaned in less than an hour of my arrival. I didn’t have to wait in long queues, and the nurses are patient through the process,” she said.

Sebenzile Mdlalose (75) of Imbali learnt that the train was in town as she stood in a queue at Northdale Hospital. She travelled to town for the quick and easy services offered by Phelophepa.

Train manager and professional nurse Anna Mokwena said the train consists of 18 coaches, and includes clinic facilities, accommodation, catering and a dining car.

“We’ve been receiving a fair number of patients, but we still encourage more residents to come and use the services,” she said.

Pharmacist Elizabeth Mpya of ­Johannesburg said she has been working on the train for 11 years.

“I miss my family at times, but they understand that I’m out here putting food on the table for them and serving the country,” she said.

Optometrist Bheki Mendlula said there were differences between the Phelophepa train and community ­clinics.

“The train is more fulfilling because it’s a same-day service, where you come and collect all your required prescriptions, while some of the services have to be ordered in a hospital or clinic. We have almost all the equipment needed for the various departments,” he said.

University of Johannesburg fourth-year optometry student Elizma van Rooyen said the experience was tiring, especially with the heat in Pietermaritzburg and the language barrier, but it was also rewarding to serve a community in need.

“I’ve learnt to work faster, patiently and accurately. My goal is to gain more experience,” she said.

Mokwena said Phelophepa, which is in the city until February 20, offered check-ups for free, with some services requiring a minimal fee.

The train opens at 7.30 am and only closes when the last patient registered for the day has been treated.

• siso.naile@witness.co.za

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