DA KZN:  Umhlanga Clinic oversight visit reveals desperate situation

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

A recent DA oversight visit to the Umhlanga Local Clinic has revealed dismal conditions at this busy facility.

The clinic was recently reassigned as a temporary treatment centre by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. This after the municipality sold its old fixed-site premises to a property developer.

The DA visit has revealed the following;

–          No proper clinic building. The clinic currently operates out of a park home donated by the Umhlanga UIP team which is not designed for this purpose. There are only two small consulting rooms with no proper space for medication storage and patient examination. Staff must share a single consulting room violating the patient’s right to privacy.

–          Lack of sanitation. There is absolutely no provision of ablution facilities at the clinic. Patients and staff alike have to use toilet facilities at the neighbouring garage or shopping mall. This is completely unacceptable.

–          Lack of staff. The clinic is completely understaffed with only two professional nurses and one staff nurse despite the huge volume of patients. There is also no clerk or general orderly to ensure proper administration and cleanliness of the facility.

–          No waiting area. The clinic lacks a proper waiting area for patients who are forced to wait under trees on a traffic island along Lagoon Drive leaving them open to the elements. This is totally unacceptable

–          Lack of utilities. The Hooters restaurant across the road currently sponsors the clinic with electricity. The clinic also only has one tap and small washbasin. This places severe constraints on proper infection control.

–          Lack of proper air-conditioning. The park home currently has no air-conditioning and poor ventilation. It is believed that the municipality has plans to supply air-conditioners to this clinic. This must be fast-tracked.

The Umhlanga Local Clinic services scores of workers from the community’s economic zone. The majority of patients come from townships and peri-urban areas for work and healthcare. Between 70 and 80 patients are treated every day.

I have today written to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to outline the situation and have urged him to do something about it.  While he may not have direct authority over the administering of a municipal clinic, I sincerely hope that as a medical doctor and Health MEC he will take up the plight of these patients with the eThekwini City Health Department.

These problems need to be rectified without delay and a fixed-site facility provided as a matter of urgency.  This would improve the morale of clinic staff and bring the clinic up to standards as set out in the National Core Standards.

Mostly importantly, it would ensure that the best possible healthcare service is provided to all patients.