Sick of waiting for new clinic

2015-05-05 07:17
Residents from the area surrounding Lotus River Clinic gather outside the facility to show their solidarity against the closure of the clinic. 

Chevon Booysen

Residents from the area surrounding Lotus River Clinic gather outside the facility to show their solidarity against the closure of the clinic. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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Residents who live near the closed Lotus River Clinic say they cannot be made to wait until the end of the year for a new clinic.

The Lotus River Clinic was officially closed three years earlier than expected and residents say they are upset over the closure. People’s Post previously reported on the closure which cost the City of Cape Town R200 000 (“Clinic may open”, 14 April).

Patients who visited the clinic from Jim se Bos, Ottery, Lotus River, Schaapkraal, Eagle and Pelican Park say they cannot wait any longer for a clinic to open closer to them.

One resident, Mary-Anne Mitchell (53), says she now has to walk to the Klip Road Clinic from Egoli informal settlement. Her day starts at 05:00 if she has to walk there.

“We have to get up very early because once you get to the clinic there is already a long queue outside. Klip Road Clinic cannot cope with the number of patients coming there every day so they tell you to come back the next day. When you get there the next day you are met with the same situation, so easily three days you stand outside a clinic until you eventually get helped,” she explains.

“I used to walk to Lotus River Clinic anyway when I had to visit the facility and that was not so bad. But now I have to walk even further, which just isn’t fair,” Mitchell says.

She says she is worried with the winter coming up. Her route to Klip Road Clinic is not serviced by taxis.

“We will now have to pay people to take us to the clinic if needed. Nothing is free anymore and we already have so little to start with. I will have to fork out R100 a day to visit the clinic because people charge you R50 either way,” she says.

Ricardo Wolfaardt, chairperson of the community organisation UPO – Voice of the People, says the organisation has been fighting to get an answer from the City.

“Our people are being overlooked and when we had a meeting last month we gave the health department a mandate to come to us within a month to say when we can expect a new or reopened facility. Health care is a must and it should be accessible to our communities,” Wolfaardt says.

Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, said during a meeting in April that if he could manage to have the Lotus River Clinic “reopened by the end of the year, I have reached something”.

Mamkeli said that he was not promising a clinic by the end of the year but assured residents that due process would be followed to have the Lotus River facility reopened.

Mamkeli added: “Arrangements have been made for an assessment of the clinic building to establish its structural integrity as it is an old, temporary structure. City health’s decision on the future of the building will be determined by the findings of the structural assessment, current community engagements as well as the associated costs to fix the building and implement security measures, bearing in mind the budgetary implications.”

According to him a mobile service would “ease the current situation” but would also need a budget first.

“The existing mobile clinic within the subdistrict currently services the Philippi and Schaapkraal farm areas, but also needs replacing. Such a request has been submitted and will rely on available budget in the new financial year,” Mamkeli explained.

He further added that there were three alternative health facilities within a 5km radius, “which is the national norm”. Klip Road Clinic and Lotus River Community Health Centre are located between 1.7 km and 2 km from the old clinic site. The Grassy Park Community Health Centre is 3.2 km away.V

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