By ^GZ –
A visit to clinics in Region D Soweto taught me a great deal about the importance of the experience of the patients and staff at healthcare facilities in our communities.
I joined our Member of the Mayoral Committee for Health, Cllr Mpho Phalatse, and her team during her Region D clinics imbizo in Soweto. This initiative is the first of more that will follow for all Johannesburg regions.
Cllr Phalatse wants to improve patients’ experience and health workers’ conditions of work by engaging them on day-to-day challenges that they face at the facilities and finding ways to accommodate them where necessary.
Our first stop was Naledi Clinic, which is literally a small container meant to service not only the community of Naledi but Emndeni South as well as Protea North, making it an estimated population of over 50 000 people.
There are chronic conditions that are dealt with on a daily basis at the Naledi Clinic that include diabetes, epilepsy, asthma, hypertension and HIV/AIDS. All of these chronic conditions are treated at that small space. The weather was arctic cold and residents were lined up outside in the cold waiting to be attended to.
Fortunately, construction of the new Naledi Clinic will commence in July this year and the community will finally have a facility that they can be proud of. However, Phalatse explained that other communities do not have space to have a clinic, so these container clinics are better than nothing as they provide a service to the communities that are in need.
Our second stop was at the Protea Glen Clinic, which was at least a brick and mortar clinic but the congestion was too much. Patients were overcrowded in the passage awaiting assistance. It is evident that the clinic needs an upgrade and an extension as the community of Protea Glen is growing at a fast rate.
Phalatse said her department would look into plans to upgrade the clinic while it searches for a new and more spacious location for the clinic. Patients at Protea Glen Clinic complained about the lack of communication at the clinic and the attitude of nurses towards the patients.
Phalatse requested that the hospital have a visible complaints box for patients to voice their opinions and alert the clinic on what they can do better. She and her team are looking at having a training session for nurses on how to communicate better with their patients.
Our third stop was at the Green Village Clinic, which was at a bigger building and more spacious location. There was no overcrowding and there appeared to be no displeased patients regarding the services at the clinic. The communication methods are immaculate.
On the walls are signs directing patients where to go, what to do, where to wait and how long they should be waiting to get assistance. Similarly at our fourth stop at Senaoane Clinic, the complaints box was right at the door and visible for all.
The reception desk is right by the entrance with someone to assist patients. Also, the clinic has separate waiting areas for various health issues so as to create an orderly system at the clinic. Both facilities exude cleanliness and good management. Phalatse herself said she was quite impressed by how Green Village and Senaoane clinics were run.
The entire experience just opened my eyes to how important clinics are in communities. These are the places where community members go seek help regarding their health and it has become a safe haven for them. It is important that their experience be a pleasant one.
In the same breath, it is important that our healthcare facilitators are well taken care of as well so that they can perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. This is something Cllr Phalatse is quite passionate about correcting in our clinics and with this clinic imbizo initiative, I believe we’ll start to see a big change in how our clinics will be run going forward.
Go to http://www.joburg.org.za to see where the MMC will go next with her clinics imbizo initiative.