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Clinic suffering from staff shortage


Patients often have to wait for long hours at the clinic before being assisted

WAITING: Patients at the Ritchie Clinic wait to be helped. Picture: Soraya Crowie

FOR STAFF at the Ritchie Clinic working overtime is a daily occurrence as they battle to ensure that all patients receive the medical attention they need.

The five nurses and one doctor at the clinic see more than 200 patients every day, with workers and medical staff leaving late most days.

“We start work at 7.30am and are supposed to knock off at 4pm, but because of the number of patients we usually only leave at around 5:30pm. We have to ensure that we see all the patients who are waiting before the clinic closes. We never send any patient home and tell them to come back the next day,” the staff said.

The clinic on Tuesday lost one of its patients after a local man, George Motwa, died on the premises.

According to the staff members, Motwa was found outside the building by one of the workers after returning from a nearby shop.

“One of the workers found the man, who had collapsed on the ground, and rushed to get the wheelchair. They pushed him into the emergency room where the doctor on duty and four nurses assisted him. They tried to resuscitate him and put up a drip. He was also given oxygen but died as the staff were attending to him.

“He was very sick when he came to the clinic and had an appointment at Kimberley Hospital next week,” they said.

Motwa’s family said that they could not blame the clinic for the incident and stressed that the staff had immediately attended to him and done all they could.

The staff members, however, said yesterday that community members often had to wait long hours at the clinic before being assisted.

“We, as staff members, are often blamed for the long wait. Many people, however, do not understand that we have to ensure that everyone who comes through our doors is helped.

“There are people from the surrounding farms, as well as Modderrivier and even Jacobsdal who come to this clinic to get medical treatment. The clinic in Jacobsdal only assists about 50 patients and once that number is full, community members travel to Ritchie to be assisted.

“The town itself is expanding and people are building shanties daily. We are responsible for all those people as there is also no hospital in the town.”

The staff also indicated that they could not afford to allow a situation where two medical staff members are on leave at the same time.

“We have five nurses and none of them can take leave at the same time because then we will have a crisis on our hands. Every nurse has to attend to the two services that are offered to patients. One has to attend to the immunisation of children while also attending to HIV/Aids patients. We need about three more nurses at the clinic in order to ensure that the staff do not burn out.”

The provincial Department of Health said that it will provide a response today.