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'Covert' staff attend to desperate patients

By unknown | Jun 26, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Non-striking workers have to don private clothes and sneak into Johannesburg's public hospitals to provide even an erratic service to desperate patients.

This small corps of dedicated health workers and a few personnel seconded from the army were all that separated the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, the Johannesburg Hospital and the Helen Joseph Hospital from chaos yesterday.

Baragwanath seemed to be the worst affected as services ground to a crawl with only a few scattered soldiers and a handful of non-striking workers attending to patients.

All the while emergency workers brought in more patients needing urgent medical care.

Military staff, resigned to their almost-impossible task after four weeks of the strike, off-loaded clean laundry from health department vehicles. Rubbish littered the yard where about 50 striking workers stood outside the hospital gates, closely watched by security personnel.

A few non-striking workers were also dashing about Johannesburg Hospital yesterday as patients slowly trickled in.

One worker, who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of attracting the attention of striking colleagues, said only emergency cases were being attended to.

The area around the hospital's dispensary was crowded with anxious patients.

Military workers escorted patients from ward to ward.

The admissions area at Helen Joseph in Auckland Park was congested with desperate patients hoping to be registered.

A few workers in the casualty wards attended to patients being brought in on stretchers by emergency services personnel.


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