DA KZN: Mason Street Clinic symptomatic of an uncaring DOH

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

AN unannounced oversight visit by the DA to the Mason Street Clinic has revealed that the facility is grossly understaffed despite having to provide medical treatment to some 300 patients a day, including pregnant women.

At the time of the visit this past weekend, there were only four nurses instead of the required eight.  One nurse who should have been on duty was apparently attending a course out of town yet there was no contingency plan to ensure someone covered for her.

Other problems that the DA encountered at this Clinic are;

–          There is only one sphygmomanometer – the machine used to take blood pressure.  Given that all adult patients and especially pregnant patients are screened for high blood pressure, this is unacceptable and impractical.  While we did not probe further as to whether every single patient’s BP is checked, it would not be unrealistic to assume that not all patients screened.  The result of a critically high BP not being diagnosed is disastrous

–          There was no stock of Paracetamol tablets [the ingredient in Panado].  It is hard to accept that such a basic item is not available.  Several more essential medicines were also out of stock

–          Interestingly, patients who have received Implanon are frequent visitors to the clinic to have the implanted contraceptive removed due to its side effects

–          The clinic does not have cleaning detergents.  While is seemed to be tidy, it could have been cleaner.  Meanwhile, toilet paper is rationed to prevent theft

–          The clinic has recently seen a worrying increase in MDR TB as well as a sharp rise in the number of TB cases, often attributed to HIV/ AIDS

–          Queues at the clinic at the time of the visit were estimated at around 40 patients.

I have today written to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, asking that he hold accountable those KZN DOH officials who are paid to ensure that clinics such as Mason Street have the basic essentials.  As with so many other medical institutions, it appears that earlier requests by clinic management are falling on deaf ears.

By any standard, only one BP machine in such a busy –and only clinic in town – as well as a shortage of essential medicines and cleaning material is symptomatic of an uncaring higher management.

To ignore these matters must be seen as excessively frivolous.