Staff redeployed, patients redirected as PA Town Clinic temporarily closed

Staff are being redeployed and patients referred to Nemato and Station Hill clinics after the Port Alfred Town Clinic was closed on Tuesday March 19. The closure followed a burst water pipe that flooded the facility on Monday, damaging some furniture and equipment.

When Talk of the Town visited the facility on Tuesday, patients who had arrived earlier to honour their referral dates had been turned away. Head of the health departments Makana subdstrict, Mohamed Docrat, was meeting with the clinic’s staff. Also on the scene on Tuesday were members of the Clinic Committee, including Nadine Haynes, Ward 10 councillor, who told TOTT that the Department of Labour had earlier inspected the building and declared it unsafe.

TOTT visited again on Wednesday morning and found some clinic staff were at their posts drawing up notification letters diverting patients to other clinics. A few patients who spoke to Talk of the Town were unhappy with the developments. Frustrated resident Katrien Dreyer said she came to the clinic for her chronic medication to treat a serious illness.   “I am waiting to see where I must go to and what about transport costs? asked Dreyer.

A patient from Cannon Rocks, Johan Basson, was angered about the closure. “Why should they close the clinic? It’s just a couple of boards broken in the ceiling? I have a heart complaint and need medication. This car I came with doesn’t run on air?”

A Nemato resident who asked to remain anonymous said he was shocked by news of the closure. “I am not happy after I was here yesterday … I need my medicines because I have HIV. I do not want to go to other clinics because things move very, very slowly there.”

An East London resident said it wasn’t good news at all upon hearing news of the closure when she arrived at the clinic yesterday. “I am visiting with my son who is doing contract work here in Port Alfred. I have high blood pressure and am diabetic. I need my medication today. What am I to do?” she asked. 

Spokesperson for the Department of Health, Mkhululi Ndamase, confirmed that the Port Alfred Town Clinic had been temporarily closed after a burst water pipe caused damage to the facility.

“As soon as the incident was reported, the district management visited the facility and started the process of informing other nearby clinics,” Ndamase said. “This is because patients from the Port Alfred Town Clinic are being referred to the nearby four facilities.”

According to Ndamase, this is the plan:

  • Patients will be given a referral letter. Patients’ records will be sent to the clinics they will be referred to. The four other clinics in the area are . Station Hill Clinic; Nkwenkwezi Clinic; Port Alfred Local Clinic 1; Port Alfred Local Clinic 2.
  • A stock take of medication will be done and distributed to other clinics to ensure there is no shortage.
  • Equipment will be marked and distributed to other clinics while the Port Alfred Town Clinic is temporarily closed.
  •  To ensure that there is enough personnel at other clinics, staff at the Port Alfred Town Clinic will work at the other clinics until the damage has been repaired and the clinic reopened.

A service provider had already been appointed to repair the damaged pipe, Ndamase said. He confirmed that the clinic building is owned by the Eastern Cape Department of Health.

“However, the department’s infrastructure unit will assess the extent of the damage which will then inform the best cause of action. It will only be after the assessment that we will be in a position to comment on the work that will be done at the clinic.”

Ndamase said the department was grateful to all the staff who had rolled up their sleeves and worked together as a team.

“This minimised the damage caused. Their action shows that they are dedicated to serving the people of Port Alfred, Sarah Baartman and the Eastern Cape.”

  • Additional reporting by Sue Maclennan