Cure for Hout Bay clinic

The Hout Bay Day Hospital remains closed.

While the closure of the Hout Bay Community Day Centre (CDC), also known as the day hospital, continues to raise the blood pressure of those in need of healthcare in Hout Bay, a solution could be in sight.

The provincial Department of Health announced that a formal lease agreement was signed and concluded on Friday October 11 to occupy a temporary site until the new CDC is built.

Spokesperson for the department, Natalie Watlington, confirmed that they have been working around the clock to ensure that the new temporary site would be ready by early November.

“Until we can provide our full package of care from the new premises, we will continue to provide basic health services from various sites across the Hout Bay area,” she said.

This includes reduced services at the old CDC.

The department decided to shut the doors of the CDC for safety reasons after protests in Hangberg last month saw parts of Hout Bay being shut down, (“Protests flare up in Hangberg”, Sentinel, September 20). They later introduced temporary measures to cater for those requiring health services in the community (“New health services plan for Hangberg”, Sentinel, October 4).

It is believed that nearly 50% of the patients attending the day hospital for healthcare are from Imizamo Yethu.

Ms Watlington said the department decided to introduce health services to the “most vulnerable patients” from the Hout Bay Main Road clinic close to the settlement, making it easier for patients to access the services.

Services are also being offered at the Hangberg multi-purpose hall and reduced health services are provided at the Hout Bay CDC.

“To ensure all patients accessing our health services have been attended to, we are also strengthening community-based access to chronic medication collection and expanding community-oriented primary care,” Ms Watlington added.

Liz Huckle, chairperson of the Hout Bay Community Health Forum, said despite the number of complaints she has received from the public regarding the closure of the day hospital, she felt there was progress being made now that a lease has been signed.

“This health forum is here to represent the people of Hout Bay and we feel that the important thing here is to bring back these services to the area, services which are needed. So we would really like to focus on the positives of this decision,” she said.

The health forum has been in existence for the past 25 years, having cemented their place in the community as a non-political voluntary forum, serving as a bridge between the community and health services.

“We have always worked in close co-operation with the CDC and staff and supported them in their work wherever we could, working together in a spirit of mutual co-operation and going through the correct channels to report matters of concern,” Ms Huckle said.

Despite introducing their interim plans, some concerns were still sparked, especially around the shuttle services being provided by the health department.

Rachel Carolus from Hangberg said this new feature made the process long and inconvenient.

Ms Carolus has to be up before 6am to get to the day hospital by 7.30am to catch the first shuttle to collect her medication.

“This closure of this facility is really throwing us out. We are senior citizens and now we must be up early to catch the shuttle to go and sit the whole day and wait for your medication. Then you must catch this shuttle back home,” she said.

Imizamo Yethu resident Nonsipho Adumane said she got used to travelling to Hangberg for her hospital visits and said it has only caused her more problems when it closed.

“I travelled there some days and wasted my time. I got to the hospital and found the doors closed and did not know where to turn,” she said.

Ms Adumane said she had also not been informed about the interim measures that were in place.

“I heard somebody say there was a story in the newspaper, so I had to run around to find a copy. But what I am trying to say is why should I run around to find a newspaper to tell me where I can go for my health?”

Community activist, Roscoe Jacobs, said very little information was shared about the progress of the CDC and whether or not it would be reopened for the community.

He accused the department of violating the human rights of the Hout Bay community.

“I call on the South African Human Rights Commission to intervene and investigate these violations and the threat of violating our human rights,” Mr Jacobs said.

Mr Jacobs also had concerns around the interim measures being introduced by the health department, mainly with the use of the multi-purpose community hall.

“The health department has put together a plan for provisional service and these plans are a threat to the community’s right to dignity and privacy as the sport centre they plan to use does not have rooms ideal for screening services,” he said.