On the same day, 12 September, that TAC comrades in Mpumalanga were marching to the office of Mpumalanga Health MEC Mrs Candith Mashigo-Dlamini to demand better healthcare services, they received a disturbing call stating that Evander Clinic in Govan Mbeki Municipality had been closed. While patients were referred to Evander Hospital, all patient files were still locked up in Evander Clinic. The patient files are needed to inform doctors and pharmacists of pre-existing conditions, current illnesses and prescribed medication. Without the files, pharmacists are now asking patients for the names of their medication. If a patient doesn’t know the exact name, the pharmacy cannot supply him/her with the right medication.
TAC members in Gert Sibande have been trying to get more details on the reasons behind the closure and visited the Clinic earlier this week. Looking through the windows, they saw files, equipment, medication and furniture exactly the way it was left behind. The only thing missing in the picture are staff and patients. After speaking to the owner of the building, it appears that the Provincial Department of Health (DOH) owes him R114,000 in rent. The Provincial DOH, however, refuses to pay the rent claiming that the landlord increased the monthly rent from R5,601 to R11,400 in 2012, which the department deemed too high. The building was furthermore assessed by an NHI facility accreditation team that concluded that it was not suited to be used as a clinic. This assessment and the high rent prompted the provincial DOH to not renew the lease in 2013 and instead enter into a month-to-month agreement. But while the department did not wish to continue to rent the building, it did not look for an alternative solution to house the clinic.
To make matters worse, the owner of the building is now threatening to clear out the building and put all furniture, medication and patient files out on the street. While Evander Hospital doesn’t have enough space to store all the contents, the District Health Management Team is looking into the option of placing park homes in front of Evander Hospital. According to the District Director for Health, Vukani Khoza, the park homes can temporarily function as a clinic until a more permanent solution has been found.
TAC will in the meantime facilitate a meeting between the District Director of Health, the building owner and the Facility Manager to find an amicable solution and retrieve the patients’ information as soon as possible.