Patient angry with Chapel Street clinic service

Patients queue at the Chapel Street clinic. A mother recently had a bad experience at the centre when she was told to wait in line with her sick son.

What was supposed to be a routine trip to the Chapel Street Clinic turned out to be a frustrating experience for two angry Woodstock mothers, who were forced to seek medical attention elsewhere.

On Monday June 27, Rasheeqa Wiseman rushed her three-year-old son to the clinic when his temperature spiked.

When she arrived, there were a few people already waiting to be seen, but when they saw the condition of the child, the other patients in the room allowed Ms Wiseman to go ahead of them.

“My son was throwing up before we got to the clinic, and he was really heating up. The patients around the waiting room were showing concern, and they said the nurses could see me first,” she said.

But, claimed Ms Wiseman, a nurse told her to wait in the line.

“Even though the people were telling this nurse that it’s okay, she insisted on letting other people in and seeing them before my son.

“It made me extremely angry, and, according to her, my son did not have a high fever and did not need to be seen to urgently,” she said.

Ms Wiseman contacted her father who rushed her and her son to another doctor, where he was seen to immediately.

“So just as we thought, he had a high fever and was very sick.

“I understand they see lots of people throughout the week, but if they do not like doing their jobs, they must leave the clinic. They can’t play with our children’s lives like that,” she added.

Another monther, who did not want to be identified in the media, said she left work early to take her child to the clinic, but was told she was “trespassing” because the clinic was closed.

When she arrived, she said, there were about five people waiting in line – but not a staffer in sight.

Other patients said there had been no staff in the clinic for at least half an hour.

When a staffer arrived, the woman immediately inquired about the situation

According to the woman, the staff member told her: “We are still having the meeting, and if you’re inside this building you are trespassing, because the gate was locked. So how did you get in?”

The woman, however, argued that the gate had not been locked and eventually left without getting treatment for her or her son.

The Chapel Street Clinic offers about 13 curative services, including mother and child, reproductive health, tuberculosis, anti-retroviral therapy, sexually transmitted infections and nutrition services, as well as a wellness clinic for staff.

The clinic has been used as one of the UCT’s research sites for tuberculosis-related conditions.

In 2012, the clinic received donations from UCT’s Lung Institute, in partnership with Lewis Stores and Cape Peninsula University of Technology, for renovations and fencing.

While complaints had not been lodged with the City, mayoral committee member for health, Siyabulela Mamkeli, said the matter would be investigated.

“There is a notice at the reception next to the window for admissions that informs members of the public not to wait in the queue with sick children,” he said.

“All nursing staff are aware that they have to attend to sick children immediately – those who present serious symptoms such as fever,.”

Furthermore, he said, notices should be displayed, informing patients when staff meetings take place.

Clinic managers are also required to leave one professional nurse on the floor to attend to any emergency cases.

The Tatler can confirm that a notice stipulating that a meeting would be taking place had, in fact, been posted outside the entrance of the clinic.

“If any member of the public feels that they are being treated badly, they are advised to take down the name of the staff member who attended to them and report this to the City.

“We also advise the public not to leave the clinic without discussing the problem with the clinic manager,” he said.

Mr Mamkeli said in light of the concerns raised, the head of personal primary healthcare and programmes would address the matter with all clinic managers in the sub-district.

* Each clinic has a complaints and compliments box where visitors can submit their concerns.