Long wait for eye test at PE hospital

2019-10-02 06:02

PATIENTS at the Port Elizabeth Provincial Hospital are having to wait longer for an eye assessment with only one optometrist employed at the hospital.

This shortage means that Bay residents face an 18-month waiting period for an appointment, allegedly resulting in patients wearing outdated glass lenses which are past their replacement date.

That was the fate of a resident, André van Rhyn, who arrived for his appointment last week at the hospital, after walking 8km.

“I arrived at the hospital very early and was awaiting my turn in the queues as required. When it was my turn at 09:00, I was informed that the optometrist was on holiday. I waited for eight months for that appointment and now, it is expected of me to wait another 10 months.

“By that time my current glasses will be more than two years overdue,” he said.

Van Rhyn said he first made an appointment in February and was told the optometrist would only be available next year to conduct an eye test.

“After much struggle, they offered to see me in December as my glasses were already seven months past their two-year lifespan that time. They then settled for an appointment on September 23.

“However, at the moment my glasses are 14 months past their replacement date and the lenses have started to fade. I can’t see through them anymore,” he said.

Van Rhyn said he understands that state hospitals have to cater for a huge number of people. However, he has since appealed to the CEO of the PE Provincial Hospital to intervene and investigate the eye clinic.

He added, “We all spend time, money and effort to attend our long awaited appointments. We all urgently need our basic needs to be attended to. I need to have proper eyesight, because driving motor vehicles is the only work available to me.”

Van Rhyn’s new appointment date has since been postponed to July 31, 2020.

According to the provincial spokesperson of the Department of Health, Sizwe Kupelo, there is only one optometrist in the western region in the public sector.

Kupelo added, “Patients are seen on an appointment basis at the hospital. Currently there is an 18-month waiting list.”

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