Strict social distancing at clinic

Roellien Johnson, street committee member for Beacon Valley, has experienced the Mitchell's Plain Community Health Centre at a full capacity of people during the lockdown.

The Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre is functioning under strict physical distancing and capacity management measures introduced by the facility.

They also only allow a certain number of patients inside at a time to reduce the risk of staff and clients contracting Covid-19.

The facility, also referred to as the day hospital, has received a smaller number of clients using services, and because of physical distancing, patients wait outside the facility until they can enter. This can result in the facility looking very busy, said provincial Department of Health spokesperson, Monique Johnstone.

Street committee member for Beacon Valley, Roellien Johnson, said she has experienced the facility being full of people at the pharmacy area. The facility is managed well but the section where most seniors received their medication was full. Previously she received her medication at the Beacon Valley community centre but now they receives it at the day hospital. She had to wait two hours for her medication as there were only two staff members at their window points. Sometimes they stand in the rain to wait to go inside. “This is not right,” she said. “The security guards at the gate were not welcoming either. I have seen a woman who had to give birth in the parking lot as she was told to be dropped off in front of the entrance gate instead of making use of the inside parking,” Ms Johnson said.

She said the problem is the way they are addressed by security guards, and sometimes both patients and the guards do not understand each other.

Ms Johnstone said the security’s mandate is to ensure the safety and security of staff, patients, visitors and provincial government property. They need to ensure that there are no weapons on site, and that verbally and physically abusive patients are managed appropriately. “They are assisting staff to maintain the measures to comply with applicable policies and protocols to adhere to Covid-19 procedures that’s been put in place at the facility. The security is often the first point of contact with clients and assists with limiting the number of people inside the facility during Covid-19,” said Ms Johnstone.

Their normal services are still continuing, but it is limited due to the lockdown regulations and Covid-19 protocols for healthcare services. The patients are screened for Covid-19 symptoms at the gate before being granted access to the facility by the healthcare officials, said Ms Johnstone.

The elderly and at-risk patients are urged to stay home. Their chronic medication will be delivered to their homes and they should only visit the facility for their doctor’s appointments or if they are severely ill.

Life-threatening trauma and emergency cases are allowed in for care, but due to Covid-19 protocols, no escorts will be allowed in the facility. The services for physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and audiology, eye screening and school health services are suspended until further notice. The dental services are limited to emergency extraction only.

The provincial Department of Health has taken the decision to only test those who are at higher risk and most vulnerable to dying from Covid-19 infection in the Cape Town metropolitan area.

This decision follows confirmation that the backlog of tests from the Western Cape at the National Health Laboratory Service grew to 27 000. “We understand that other provinces are experiencing similar backlogs. This means that someone who is seriously ill in hospital, or a healthcare worker, or someone who we know is at high risk of dying from Covid-19, may have to wait between seven to 12 days for a result. This is simply not an option.

“As of Monday June 1, you will only be tested if you are admitted to hospital with Covid-19 symptoms, you are over 55 and have Covid-19 symptoms, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease on treatment, cancer on treatment, tuberculosis on treatment, HIV with poor adherence to ARVs, chronic lung disease on treatment (for example asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis), you are a healthcare worker and you have Covid-19 symptoms and if you live in a care or old age home and have Covid-19 symptoms,” said Ms Johnstone.

“While we cannot control what happens outside the gate, we do enforce the guidelines within the facility. This is a whole of society approach and we encourage people to adhere to the Covid-19 pandemic healthcare golden rules of hygiene, hand washing, wearing a mask and social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In order to stop the spread of the virus we require everyone to do their part and to change their behaviour,” said Ms Johnstone.

If you have flu-like symptoms, and have come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus, or for information on home care and self-isolation, call the dedicated provincial hotline on 021 928 9102 or the national hotline on 0800 029 999 for advice.

These lines are operational 24/7.

As of yesterday, Tuesday June 9, Mitchell’s Plain had 3 197 cases of people with Covid-19, with 1 855 recoveries.