Truth about Edendale Hospital

2008-08-19 00:00

Iam responding to the article written by Thembeka Sibisi (The Witness, July 30) about Edendale Hospital. Firstly I wish to state that she did not conduct thorough research on the subject and has mainly presented a cursory view of it.

Because she travels in her own car she has no understanding whatsoever of the implications for a person who travels on foot to the hospital. By way of a reminder, one does not go to hospital voluntarily.

First, in order to receive service, one has to be armed with an introductory letter obtained from a clinic. For the walker or voetganger you have to wake up at about 3.30 am or 4 am as minibus taxis start running from about 4 am.

Once at the hospital you have to queue up at the admission office to get your admission file or docket. Usually the night shift staff are still asleep behind the admission counter windows.

There are patients who are brought in early by government buses and ambulances from feeder clinics and hospitals, particularly from the Eastern Cape, Umzimkhulu, Ixopo, Highflats, Estcourt and Loskop, as Edendale is a regional hospital.

All these people have to wait in the lobby until 6 am for their admission cards.

In the past, hospital employees were treated or were admitted to a separate environment near the old nurses’ home and old doctors’ quarters. But with the arrival of Indian personnel this has changed. Former staff members are now made to queue up with members of the public.

After being admitted and armed with a file noting your date of attendance you then go to the medical outpatients department where you have to join a long queue for attendance by doctors who only start their work after 8 am, provided they are available. Some days the doctors are attending meetings and only commence work after 10 am or 11 am.

In the meantime nurses go about their duties checking blood pressures, cholesterol levels, assigning patients to the correct queues, etc., before the arrival of the doctors.

At night there is usually one doctor who is there to attend to emergency cases in the early hours of the morning.

So the assumption that you can get to the hospital at 10.30 am and leave by 3.30 pm is a gross misunderstanding of what goes on in the hospital.

There is a huge shortage of staff and equipment at the hospital. The instruments used to check blood pressure, for example, are shared by various departments. Some are old and not in proper working order. When you have to attend the eye clinic, you don’t get immediate treatment. You have to make an appointment three months in advance. However, the treatment and staff there are excellent and beyond reproach.

Sibisi’s article is out of touch with reality. An article in The Witness on the same day about the difficulties of the Department of Health are a rebuttal of what Sibisi said.

As a patient of 12 years’ standing I totally disagree with the assumptions. The number of patients in Edendale Hospital is extremely high, the queues at the dispensary are exceptionally long and the staff are overworked on certain days. Medication is often not available and one has to return to the hospital to get the necessary medication on a different date.

While the government is trying its best, it goes without saying that a lot still has to be done to improve the situation.

A visit to Grey’s Hospital shows a different view. The admission clerks use computers to keep patients’ records, in contrast to Edendale Hospital. This way records never get lost. Edendale Hospital is still using the old manual system and there is no provision for improvement.

There are long queues at the clinic and the staff are overworked because of a shortage of skills and personnel.

My reason for writing this article is that I want employers to have a correct view of what goes on at Edendale Hospital and for businesses to assist in whatever way they can to contribute to the wellbeing of the hospital.

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