Patients wait in line from 5am at Lusikisiki Clinic

Diabetic patient has to leave grandchildren sleeping alone

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Photo of patients queuing outside Lusikisiki clinic
Some patients leave home at 4am to queue at this clinic in Lusisiki. Photo: Buziwe Nocuze

It is 7.30am on a cold morning in Lusikisiki and patients have been waiting for hours outside the clinic which opens at 8:30am. Some left their village at 4.00am to walk the eight kilometres to the clinic and join the queue. Those who can afford it waited for the first bakkie to town.

Residents of Ngobozana in the Eastern Cape say this is what they have to do every time they need medical attention, since there is no clinic near where they live.

Nombeko Gawushe, 60, had to leave her sleeping grandchildren alone. She was worried about their safety since she left home while it was very dark.

“Imagine leaving your house at 4.30am, leaving children alone. I’m not safe. My grandchildren at home are also not safe because I have to leave very early if I want to see a doctor,” she said.

When GroundUp arrived, Gawushe had already been standing in the queue for almost two hours and would already wait another hour before the clinic opened at 8:30am.

At 8am, staff started arriving and then nurses could be heard singing inside the building.

“Now they are praying, so we will have to wait until they finish praying,” said Gawushe. “They saw us when they arrived. They know that there are people waiting at the gate.”

She said this happened whenever she came to the clinic.

“Each month I come here for my diabetic treatment and it does not matter if it’s raining or cold, we have to queue here,” she said.

Exactly at 8:47am the gates were opened and patients were allowed inside.

“I thought I was going to be the first one here. I arrived past five but there were already people waiting outside,” Gawushe said.

She was number seven in the queue. She said there would be other queues inside the clinic, including a queue for medication, and she would only leave the clinic after two or three hours.

Another patient, Thembekile Rhungqa, said the clinic served about six villages which was why people had to queue from 4am to be treated.

He said nurses would leave at 5pm and patients who had not been treated would have to come back another day.

“I’m here because I have flu and I still have to wait outside. What can I do? I don’t have money for a private doctor and if I want medication I have no choice but to wake up very early and be here on time.”

“I walked from home to here. At 4am I was already on the road coming here,” he said.

“We can not blame nurses if our government has forgotten about us. All we are asking is for the Department of Health to build clinics in these villages. There are mothers who come here with their small kids and they have to queue outside,” Rhungqa said.

Eastern Cape Department of Health Spokesperson Siyanda Manana said he was not aware of the problem but would look into it.

“We are going to see how we can assist the residents of Lusikisiki. We are not going to built a clinic but we are surely going to see how we can help them”, he said.

TOPICS:  Government Health

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