Clinic accused of allowing cleaners to assist patients

2020-01-29 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedThe Ashdown Clinic where community members say they are often helped by cleaning staff due to short-staffing.

PHOTO: suppliedThe Ashdown Clinic where community members say they are often helped by cleaning staff due to short-staffing.

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COMMUNITY members who use the Ashdown Clinic say they want the Department of Health in the province to intervene at the clinic as they are not happy with the service they receive.

One of the main complaints regarding the clinic is that the facility is short-staffed, which has resulted in some services that should be performed by nurses, allegedly being performed by cleaning staff.

Some of these duties include checking patients’ files, handing out chronic medication to patients and administering immunisations to infants and toddlers.

Community members who spoke to Echo also said that sometimes they have to leave the clinic without being assisted due to the long queues.

In addition, they said that people who arrive at the clinic after noon are often turned away by nurses, who say that they cannot accept new patients after midday even though the clinic closes at 4 pm.

A former patient of the clinic, Thabile­ Dlamini, told Echo that she stopped using the clinic because of the service she received there.

“I went to collect blood pressure medication for my neighbour. One of the cleaners handed out the medication. One of the nurses told her: ‘Forget about mopping, you will do it later, get the pills. I am too tired.’

“Why are they allowing cleaners access to patients’ files and allowing them to give us medication? What if they give us the wrong medication? What about patient confidentiality?” she asked.

Dlamini said that this was not the first time that she was assisted by a cleaner at the clinic.

“A few months ago I took my child for her immunisation and a cleaner administered the vaccine. Since then I refused to take my child back there.

“We want the department to intervene before things get out of hand.

They cannot allow just anyone to have access to patients’ files,” she said.

Dlamini’s claims were backed up by another community member, who spoke to the Echo under the condition of anonymity.

“We know that it is wrong [to be assisted by the cleaners] but we have no choice because, when we come to the clinic, we need to receive our medication. If we refuse to get help from the cleaners, we may end up not getting any assistance at all because the nurses take their time, even when they see that the queue is long.

“When the cleaners help patients the queue starts moving, but sometimes we fear that we might get the wrong medication,” she said.

Echo visited the Ashdown Clinic on Monday where patients were seen waiting in a long queue. Some were waiting outside as there were no chairs for them to sit on inside.

One of the cleaners was seen handing out files and asking the patients standing outside if they had received any help regarding their files.

Community members who use the clinic said they wake up very early to get to the clinic but they often end up spending the entire day there because the service is very slow.

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said: “The management of Ashdown Clinic is not aware of general orderlies at Ashdown Clinic issuing medication. The department encourages anyone who might have evidence of this to bring it forward.”

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