Northdale: no pay, no medicines

2010-04-26 00:00

SCORES of patients had to leave Northdale Hospital without their prescribed medication on Friday afternoon.

The breakdown in service occurred after staff in the pharmacy decided not to work beyond 4.30 pm due to non-payment of overtime.

Patients, including senior citizens with various illnesses, claim to have arrived in the morning at the hospital, but had to leave empty-handed.

Despite experiencing difficulty with walking, Catherine van Rooyen (64) of Prestbury said she had arrived at Northdale hospital at about 7 am for a repeat of her medication for anxiety and panic attacks.

She said she had spent most of the day at the medical outpatient department, with nobody paying attention to her.

“It was hell in there. Those people are disorganised, and the sad part is that the Health Department doesn’t seem to be aware of that.

“It feels bad to have to endure such treatment at a government hospital, an institution meant to care for the people,” said Van Rooyen.

When she finally got to the pharmacy at about 2 pm, she had to join another long queue to get to the dispensary windows.

It was just after 4 pm when she got served.

“I feel sorry for those who were turned away, and I count myself lucky to have received my medication,” she said.

David Smith of Woodlands — and scores of other patients — were not so lucky as the only operating dispensing window was closed at 4.28 pm.

This means that they will have to return today for another long day in queues, and once again some people might have to leave without their medication.

Smith said the most hurtful part is that nobody bothers to tell patients what is going on.

“They just look at us and continue with their job at a snail’s pace. This security officer [pointing to the security guard] told me that there’s only one pharmacist at work and that the staff no longer work beyond 4.30 pm.

“I don’t see how their issues with their employer have got anything to do with us,” he fumed.

Acting pharmacy manager P. Nhleko said she is on leave and that she doesn’t know how the matter is being dealt with by the department.

Health spokesperson Chris Maxon said the department experienced a similar situation at Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Durban, and the matter was resolved.

He said he will investigate and respond before the end of Friday, but he failed to do so.

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