Nurses in village clinic buy medical essentials with their own money
Health workers have to draw blood without gloves
Nurses at the clinic in Buntingville, about 18km south-east of Mthatha, use their own money to improve their health facility. They have bought glucose meters for managing diabetes, at about R250 each, and tubing for drips. Sometimes they even pay for patients’ transport to better resourced facilities.
They have done this because, they say, the Eastern Cape Department of Health has neglected their facility.
This clinic serves patients from eight locations. It has four professional nurses.
When GroundUp visited the clinic on 8 May, one of the nurses was taking blood from a patient without gloves, because the clinic has none.
‘’I know what I am doing is very risky. Can you imagine if I can accidentally prick myself with this bloodied needle? But it’s my job. I have no choice,” said the nurse who asked to remain unnamed.
The blood of the diabetic patient she was seeing had to be sent 40km away to the nearest hospital for analysis. Having glucose meters would allow the test to be done onsite.
The nurse said that the last time she was able to do a thorough check-up of a diabetic or high-blood pressure patient was December.
‘’We have no clinic detergents, no groundsman to clean outside. We have one caretaker who has to run the clinic by herself. The grass outside [is so long] you would swear the clinic is no longer in operation. Our grass gets cut once a year and only the front. The toilets are a mess; you have to think twice before going to it,” she said.
The nurse she knows nothing about the facility’s budget but believes the clinic has never received its proper share. The clinic manager did not want to comment to GroundUp.
Thanduxolo Sidlayiya is the chair of the clinic committee, which represents the community’s interests. He also has diabetes. He considers that his life in is in danger because at the clinic they are not able to check his diabetes level and normalise it.
Eastern Cape department of health spokesperson Lwandile Sicwetsha said the complaints had been taken to the district to resolve. But he gave no deadlines.
As of the day of publication (27 May) the nurses say no progress has been made since GroundUp’s visit.
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