Hospital a distant hope

2015-11-17 06:00

While a “purposefully designed and built primary healthcare facility” has been envisioned for Ocean View and Masiphumelele, land and funding remain obstacles.

The provincial health department envisages such a comprehensive facility to better serve the Ocean View and Masiphumelele communities, spokesperson Monique Johnstone says.

“All such projects fall within the cycle of planning, prioritisation and available funding for health infrastructure over the next few years,” she says.

But Siyabulela Mamkeli, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for health, says although the City’s health department has tried to find a site in the area for a clinic for Masiphumelele residents, “space is very limited”.

“Even with space, the additional operating expenditure for such a facility would need to be sourced,” he says.

City health has planned for renovations to the Ocean View clinic, which will include two extra consulting rooms and the expansion of the records room, expected to be completed before the middle of 2017.

The Ocean View clinic is the only primary healthcare facility offering adult service in the area, explains Mamkeli.

Masiphumelele clinic offers adults anti-retroviral, TB and sexually transmitted illness treatment, as well as family planning and basic antenatal care.

The Ocean View clinic staff attend to an average of 4500 patients per month, Mamkeli says.

“This is usually split with about 4000 patients being over the age of five and the other 500 patients being under the age of five.”

Ocean View Care Centre’s Johan Kikillus says he has received a number of complaints from community members who have been left queuing at the False Bay hospital.

He believes these queues are caused by community members choosing to visit the hospital over their local clinics.

“My office is across the road from Ocean View clinic, so I see every morning just how full this clinic is – from 06:00 people line up outside the clinic, even in winter,” he says.
“The Ocean View clinic can barely look after the residents from Ocean View as it has not expanded in size in a number of years. So to expect sick adults from Masiphumelele to travel all the way to Ocean View and queue for hours is unfair. It is no wonder that they instead go to False Bay hospital.”
Johnstone says local clinics in Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Fish Hoek provide limited health services. She also says the clinics do play a role in reducing the number of patients who visit the hospital, although she admits this is the “ideal” situation.
“Due to the limited range of healthcare services offered by these local City-run clinics, we find that many patients attend the hospital for adult chronic and acute care.”
Stable patients at the hospital are being referred back to clinics where possible, but many patients choose to visit the hospital from local areas as well as many other parts of the city, Johnstone says.
“They may work in this area and access to healthcare during working times is more convenient.”
Both clinics and the hospital run an appointment system in an attempt to reduce patient waiting times.
Patients are encouraged not to come more than 30 minutes before an appointment, Mamkeli says.
“It is expected that in the future the range of services offered across the entire primary healthcare service platform would address the increased needs for adult chronic care, and be comprehensive at all service points. This would have a significant and positive effect on redistributing chronic, stable (non-emergency) patients better across all of the primary healthcare facilities,” Johnstone says.
Chronic, stable patients are also being encouraged to attend community-based service care groups run by NPOs funded by the department of health, such as Living Hope, where they can receive chronic medication, screening and support. These patients are referred to False Bay hospital should they need urgent care or a six-monthly follow-up.

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