Clinic has had no electricity for a month

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Anna Masoetsa desperately waits to find out if the nurses at Eikenhof Clinic, south of Johannesburg, will transfer her to Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.

She has been sitting in a dark consultation room at the clinic for more than an hour without help.

Nurses cannot diagnose her condition because their equipment can't work. The clinic has been in the dark for almost a month after its electricity was cut off because the province did not pay the bill. The facility normally treats about 15000 people a month. Most patients have been turned away this past month.

"My ear oozes puss, but the nurses cannot help because there is no electricity," she said.

Masoetsa, 50, said she first came to the clinic a few days ago but had returned home without getting attention.

"I had hoped things would be different today," she said.

Lydia Madaka was sitting in a dark corner outside a consultation room. She had brought her baby to the clinic after he developed a rash on his face.

"We come to this clinic because we have no money. If we had money we would go to better clinics in Vereeniging or Johannesburg," she said.

Nurses at the clinic said the department had warned them not to speak to the media.

"We have a patient whose sugar level is sky-rocketing, but we do not have insulin," a nurse said.

Another nurse said medicine was being thrown away because it could not be refrigerated.

"Sometimes we take medicines that need to be refrigerated to our homes," another nurse said.

Nurses also complain that they have to use their cellphones to arrange transport for patients who must be transferred to other hospitals.

They say the department does not refund them.

Local DA councillor Paul Smit said the situation was dire.

"We learnt that Eskom cut the electricity because the account was in arrears. The province owes Eskom R3220," he said.

Department spokesman Zanele Mngadi said the problem was administrative.

"We are in the process of arranging a generator to be used while we attend to this issue," Mngadi said.