DA KZN: Site visit reveals shocking conditions at Stonebridge Local Clinic

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA Alternate Spokesperson on Health

A recent oversight visit by the DA to the Stonebridge Local Clinic in Phoenix has revealed unacceptable and unhygienic conditions far from suitable for a medical facility.

The clinic has been operating from the Stonebridge Community Hall since 30 May while a two year refurbishment of the original facility finally takes place after many years of promises.

The DA’s visit to the clinic has revealed that there is just one tap for both clinical and patient use. In a clinic dealing with changing of wound dressings, injections and other clinical procedures, the ability to create a sterile environment, especially water, is vital. The health department has previously had many complaints regarding wound infections and the situation at Stonebridge Community Hall is doing nothing to alleviate this problem.

The DA also found that patients and staff are only allowed to use a very limited area in the hall with two un-curtained ‘consulting rooms’. There is no consideration for a filing room. Thus private patient information is not protected as confidential which is mandated by law.

Patient information including HIV status, CD4 counts and anti-retrovirals register are visible to the public due to the lay-out of the hall.  Due to this lack of privacy, the clinic has been forced to suspend the Pap smear service. In a province with a worrying incidence of cervical cancer, this is totally unacceptable.

There is no proper store room, linen room or pharmacy, leaving vital clinic supplies open for theft. In addition, the clinic can also only function properly when the hall is not in use. Of special concern is that the patient waiting area would move outside at the mercy of the elements. It is alleged that when staff raised concerns about the premises officials threatened to report them to the South African Nursing Council for dereliction of duty. It is unacceptable that when nursing staff complain about being unable to fulfil their oath of duty, they are threatened.

The DA is deeply concerned by these findings.  Stonebridge Local Clinic provides vital health services to a poverty-stricken community.

The DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to KZN’s Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo regarding whether proper procedures were followed in relocating the clinic.  We expect the MEC to prioritise this matter.