Short wait rewarded

2016-11-15 06:00
The efforts of the chronic diseases staff of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre have been rewarded with second place in a national competition. They have shortened patient waiting times to two hours. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

The efforts of the chronic diseases staff of the Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre have been rewarded with second place in a national competition. They have shortened patient waiting times to two hours. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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Taking the needs of their patients into account has bagged a local health facility a national award.

The Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) is reaping the rewards after successfully implementing a “highway system” for chronic disease management at the facility.

The centre was runner-up in the Innovative Enhancements of Internal Systems of Government category and given an award by the Centre for Public Service Innovation on Friday 28 October. The award is the first of its kind for the centre.

Dr Neal David, family physician at the centre, says they entered the awards after they restructured the chronic diseases of lifestyle club and clinic system.

“The system was very overcrowded and created a very unpleasant experience for the patients who were using the system,” says David.

“Through the restructuring process we eliminated the queues and we reduced the waiting times of patients dramatically.”

Before implementing the system, patients would typically arrive before 05:00 and leave after 18:00, sometimes without their medication, David explains.

The implementation of the system has seen the hospital decrease waiting times drastically – to only two hours.

This is even better than the ideal clinic benchmark of three hours.

The centre provides services to around 36 000 patients per month, of which more than 20 000 are patients who access their chronic club services.

The centre also issues more than 24 000 prepacked medications per month.

The system has made a large impact because most of the patients seen at the health centre is part of the chronic club.

The staff instilled community and staff ownership of the facility by launching the “Proudly Mitchell’s Plain campaign”, which brings various stakeholders together to motivate community members and staff to take pride in their facility.

SMS communication with patients was established for the collection of medication and appointments and an information-based website for the facility was launched, as well as an overall communication plan.

The system took two years to implement and was a team effort, says facility manager Zethu Xapile.

“We are people-centred so we responded to the needs of our clients. We have heard their cries about the long waiting times and come up with an innovative way to cut this,” says Xapile.

“The programme we are most actively driving now is registering as many patients on this system as possible,” says David.

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