Most of the community of Wattville in Benoni (east of Johannesburg) only have access to one facility – Lethabong Clinic. This clinic operates on Mondays to Fridays from 7am to 4pm. But as is the case with most public clinics in South Africa, patients only start getting seen by clinic staff around 08:30am and due to the coronavirus the waiting area for patients is now in a long line outside the clinic. No provisions for chairs or shelter have been made at the facility, which makes things worse seeing as the clinic is a place visited by people who are ill.
“I am a chronic patient and I have been one for 11 years now. I really hate my trips to the clinic, it’s even worse now with COVID-19,” Nontsikelelo Nxaki, a 43-year-old resident of Wattville said.“We stand in long queues for long periods at a time and there are no places to sit here, even when it rains, here you are on your own,” she said.
The clinic is more of an inconvenience to the residents of the area because it is closed during the night, on holidays and over the weekend yet it is the only clinic in the community.
According to a Community Healthcare Worker (CHW) who works at Lethabong Clinic and wished to remain anonymous, there is definitely a need for a bigger and better clinic and many sick patients have even collapsed in the long queues waiting outside to be assisted. Long queues and slow service have always been a major issue.
The clinic has many patients but no actual capacity to deal with them as the clinic is small and it has to cater for all the community members of Wattville, according to the CHW. Now with the coronavirus pandemic things have just gotten worse.
“Most of my work is in the field and so I hardly spend much time in the clinic, but I speak to a lot of patients and most of them really want the municipality to hire more staff and make the clinic bigger so that healthcare can be taken seriously in the community,” the CHW said.
She continued; “I have received late night calls from the patients I attend in the field that are emergency situations and because the clinic does not operate 24 hours, it will then be on my hands to ensure an ambulance gets to them. Many of them are old and vulnerable and it breaks my heart when they are too far for me to get to them at that time of night because of my safety. Also we have not even been given means by the Department [of Health] to handle such situations,” said the 32-year-old CHW.
The community of Wattville has continued to get ongoing promises from the different ward councillors that have been in power over the years, but still the development and social services have gotten worse.
“I have been living in Wattville for 55 years now and for the past 20 years I think, ANC councillors have been promising a bigger and better clinic for votes. I feel these people use the community funds for their personal capacity because Watville literally has nothing still, no police station, a small clinic and so on,” said Alfred Motaung, a 55-year-old resident of Wattville.
The councillor of Wattville was contacted for comment but has not provided a response yet.
This article was submitted on 1 July 2021. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article (https://karibu.org.za/clinic-in-wattville-needs-major-improvements-to-service-community-properly/).