The Jeppe Street Clinic in the Johannesburg inner city is facing closure because the building is in such a shocking state that even the Gauteng Health Department has admitted that it is “not conducive” for treating patients.
Staff members and patients have been complaining about the old dilapidated facilities, and believe it is no longer fit to house a public health facility.
The clinic walls are mouldy and smell bad, and the ceilings leak. When Health-eNews visited, staff were clearly not comfortable to speak out about their working conditions.
However, one staffer agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, saying: “Even when we strike and raise our complaints with the [Health] Department, they don’t do anything. We are getting sick from this clinic.”
She said a clinic was a place where patients should at least feel as though they would be offered the chance to regain their health when they walked in. “But here, you instead feel sick!”
According to Jack Bloom, the Democratic Alliance’s spokesperson on health in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, full-time staff at the clinic were getting chest infections because of the decaying state of the building in which they work.
“It is unacceptable that the health of staff and patients is affected by this sick building. It is yet another example of inadequate maintenance in our health facilities,” he said.
He called on the Health Department to act speedily to fix the clinic building to stop the clinic from deteriorating further.
Nomelizwe Mcirha, a patient at the Jeppe Street Clinic, said: “I came here last week for my treatment and the staff was outside the clinic, they refused to go in the building the whole day because of the unhealthy conditions.”
Nomelizwe said that the clinic was smelly, but it was her nearest clinic, and others were too far away from where she stays.
The Gauteng Budget released by the legislature on Tuesday allocated less money for the maintenance and repair of infrastructure, decreasing the amount from R750-million in 2016/17 to R350-million for the 2017/18 financial year.
According to Steve Mabona, spokesman for the Gauteng Department of Health, clinic visits were carried out weekly to enable the department to identify all infrastructure-related challenges and address them.
He said the Department was aware of the poor conditions at Jeppe Street Clinic. “The Johannesburg Health District management team has witnessed the condition of the clinic and found it not conducive for the community to access services, nor for staff to function well,” he said.
“The District Chief Director has written a letter to the Head of Department requesting temporary closure of the clinic, and for all services and staff to be referred to the Hillbrow Community Health Centre in Klein Street, situated about two kilometres away,” said Mabona.