Covid-19: Caluza clinic is bad enough in normal times

During an epidemic it may be much worse

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Photo of people waiting at clinic
People wait to be served at the clinic in Caluza, Pietermaritzburg. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Pietermaritzburg residents leave their homes long before sunrise to stand in the queue at Caluza clinic. They then wait long hours before they are seen. Some patients told us they wait the entire day without being attended to.

The clinic caters for residents from Esigodini, Nhlazatshe, Shayamoya and other Edendale areas.

There’s nothing particularly special about this clinic. This is a story that many people across the country experience at their clinics. But it demonstrates the difficulty the country will have if faced with a large outbreak of Covid-19 cases.

“There are only a few nurses in this clinic,” said Mabonga Mtshali. He lives in nearby Shayamoya 2. “I have made it a habit that I take one day leave from work every month. By 3am there are already patients queueing. We come here and stand in the line but the nurses only start attending to us around 8am. I leave home before dawn each time.”

He said that last month the queue was very long. Eventually night fell and he and others were sent home and told to return the following day.

The next day though, he said, he was told to join the back of the queue because he had missed his due date.

Muzi Latha, also a regular patient, said that since November he noticed that nurses were scarce. Latha said some days there would be two nurses and other days there would be four.

“They take their time and there is nothing we can say. Sometimes they talk to each other and forget that we are here. During tea or lunch time they all go to eat. They don’t even take turns. They leave us and come back after hours. There may not be enough nurses, but they are lazy,” said Latha.

He said the department must intervene.

But a nurse we spoke to explained that it’s not a matter of laziness. The nurses have to deal with a huge number of patients who are annoyed because they waited in long queues.

Department of Health Spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said Caluza Clinic is one of the busiest in the uMgungundlovu District. There are four vacant posts for nurses due to the retirement of some staff members, as well as others receiving promotions. The posts were advertised and the closing date was 31 January. She said there are currently 14 nurses employed at Caluza clinic rotating between day and night duty.

She said that no patients should be asked to leave the clinic without being attended to. “If there are delays on a certain day, facilities are encouraged to inform clients of the causes for this so that they are aware.”

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Health

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