‘Never seek help here at lunchtime’, patient told inquiry

An elderly woman who attended the 14th Avenue clinic in Walmer during lunchtime was left shocked after staff kept on berating her to “never seek help at the clinic” at that time.
This is the second incident in Nelson Mandela Bay this year where patients were scolded by health officials for daring to interrupt their lunchtime.
The 14th Avenue clinic was one of the clinics that received the lowest compliance score in the province by the Office of Health Standards Compliance, according to a report published last week.
State pensioner Mattie Rousseau, 78, said she had gone to the clinic on Friday a week ago at 12.30pm.
“I had a developing chest problem and could see a long weekend ahead.
“My daughter was going to Walmer Park [Shopping Centre] and I hitched a ride to the clinic. When I entered the clinic it was empty. There were no administrative staff at the desk – there were just two ladies who were sitting chatting to each other.
“I approached them and asked where everyone was. The unfriendly reply was that they were at lunch,” Rousseau said.
“I sat around for a long time. There was a man waiting for a medicine script to be filled near the pharmacy. After quite a while he asked me: ‘Have you not been helped yet?’ I said I couldn’t see anyone ready and willing to help.
“Then I saw a nurse come out of a room. The man called her over and she took me through to a room,” Rousseau said.
“She checked my blood pressure and did a diabetic test on me. Then she told me: ‘You must not come this time of day’.
“I asked why – ‘What time do you close?’
“She said I mustn’t ask her that question.”
Rousseau said she had replied that she was feeling sick but the nurse had told her once again not to come at that time of day.
She said she had again asked why and had been told once again not to ask that question.
Rosseau said the nurse had then taken her to a doctor.
“Shame, she [the doctor] looked very tired, but she was very good. She then gave me a script for the pharmacy.
“When I got to the pharmacy there were about seven or eight people waiting for repeat scripts. The pharmacist came out, took a script, disappeared, came back with it and said: ‘I don’t ever want to see any of you here this time of the day. Do you understand me?’”
Rousseau said the pharmacist had repeated this statement when dealing with her script.
“I don’t want to feel as if I am intruding. Of course you feel sorry for the staff. You can see how many people they have to help – but there isn’t even clear information on how you can complain about this,” she said.
In April, an anxious mother who was trying to get her foster child admitted to Port Elizabeth’s Provincial Hospital for open-heart surgery claimed she had been verbally abused by a clerk for interrupting the staffer’s lunch break.
Elmarie van der Merwe, who was in an ugly altercation with the admissions clerk when she demanded service after what she described as an 80-minute lunch break, said she had since had two meetings with hospital management.
“They assured me they were dealing with the issue and that I should continue complaining and giving feedback,” she said.
Eastern Cape Health Department spokesman Lwandile Sicwetsha said it was investigating the incident involving Rousseau at the Walmer clinic...

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