Staff refuse to work at clinic after fence stolen

“We demand our safety as well as patients’ safety,” says nurse

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A pregnant woman is turned away by a security guard at Mabandla Clinic in Kariega. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Staff at Mabandla Clinic in Kariega, Nelson Mandela Bay, are refusing to work at the facility because the fence was stolen on Wednesday night. Nurses at the clinic say they fear for their safety.

The clinic serves about 500 patients daily.

“Don’t stand at the gate please. The clinic is closed until further notice,” shouted a female security guard as a pregnant woman standing outside asked why the clinic’s gates were closed.

The security guard told her to go to one of the nearby clinics.

A nurse who did not want to be named told GroundUp: “We are not lazy as many patients allege. We demand our safety as well as patients’ safety. It will be very easy for criminals to storm into this clinic and steal our bags, cellphone and laptops including those of patients.”

A staff member said in the past their colleagues were robbed and that a clinic without a fence would be targeted.

“We have been telling the Department of Health about this problem since 11 December when the fence was being stolen bit by bit. The problem has worsened now and it’s the department’s fault,” another nurse said.

When we arrived at the clinic on Friday morning, toilets were not flushing, and the taps were dry. Nurses said patients have been shouting at them since last year about this but, said one nurse. “We told them we are not plumbers. We ourselves poo and use buckets of water from a Jojo tank in the yard to flush.”

Regional secretary of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, Samkelo Msila, said the union was aware of the closure of the clinic due to compromised security and occupational health challenges, including unavailable running water.

Provincial health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said that the department has sent a delegation from the district to establish the facts and deal with the issue. “We are also interacting with the ward councillor with a view to hold an urgent meeting with the community,” he said.

“In the meantime, patients who require primary healthcare will be assisted in nearby clinics while we seek urgent resolution of the problem.”

TOPICS:  Crime Health Labour

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