Patients wait in line from 05:00 at Lusikisiki Clinic

2016-08-31 15:38
Patients wait in line from 5am at Lusikisiki Clinic. (Ground Up)

Patients wait in line from 5am at Lusikisiki Clinic. (Ground Up)

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Cape Town - It is 07:30 on a cold morning in Lusikisiki and patients have already been waiting for hours outside the clinic which opens at 08:30. Some left their homes as early as 04:00 to walk the 8km to the clinic and join the queue. Those who can afford it waited for the first bakkie to town.

Residents of Ngobozana in the Eastern Cape say this is what they have to do every time they need medical attention, since there is no clinic near their village.

Nombeko Gawushe, 60, had to leave her sleeping grandchildren alone. She was worried about both hers and their safety since she left home while it was still very dark.

"Imagine leaving your house at 04:30, leaving children alone. I'm not safe. My grandchildren at home are also not safe because I have to leave very early if I want to see a doctor," she said.

When GroundUp arrived at Lusikisiki Clinic, Gawushe had already been standing in the queue for almost two hours and would wait another hour before the clinic opened.

At 08:00 staff started arriving and soon nurses could be heard singing inside the building.

Queue after queue

"Now they are praying, so we will have to wait until they finish praying," said Gawushe. "They saw us when they arrived. They know that there are people waiting at the gate."

She said this happens whenever she comes to the clinic.

"Each month I come here for my diabetic treatment and it does not matter if it's raining or cold, we have to queue here," she said.

At exactly 08:47 the gates were opened and patients were allowed inside.

"I thought I was going to be the first one here. I arrived past five but there were already people waiting outside," Gawushe said.

She was seventh in the queue. She said there would be other queues inside the clinic, including a queue for medication, meaning she would only leave the clinic after two or three hours.

Another patient, Thembekile Rhungqa, said the clinic served about six villages which was why people had to queue from 04:00 to be treated.

'We can't blame the nurses'

He said nurses leave at 17:00 and patients who have not been treated by that time have to come back another day.

"I'm here because I have flu and I still have to wait outside. What can I do? I don’t have money for a private doctor and if I want medication I have no choice but to wake up very early and be here on time."

"I walked from home to here. At 04:00 I was already on the road coming here," he said.

"We cannot blame nurses if our government has forgotten about us. All we are asking is for the department of health to build clinics in these villages. There are mothers who come here with their small kids and they have to queue outside," Rhungqa said.

Eastern Cape department of health spokesperson Siyanda Manana said he was not aware of the problem but would look into it.

"We are going to see how we can assist the residents of Lusikisiki. We are not going to build a clinic but we are surely going to see how we can help them", he said.

Read more on:    east london  |  service delivery  |  health

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