Patients protest over care-giver 'retrenchments'

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

A group of epileptics protested yesterday over staff retrenchments and the imminent closure of their centre, the Reea Epileptic Centre, in Graighall Park, Johannesburg.

About 20 patients and staff members, including a cook and cleaners, called for the removal of the centre's council, accusing them of "trying to kick us out of a place that has been our home for years".

Most of the patients said they did not have relatives and that the staff and fellow patients were like a family to them.

"The nurses and the rest of the staff made my life better - not the council.

"They cannot get rid of us and the loving staff just like that," said Mary Stewart, who has been living at the centre for more than eight years.

Council's chairman Judy Harding said all the centre was doing was to cut down on costs.

"We have been experiencing financial problems and had to make a plan to continue with the upkeep of the centre."

She said that they had been talking to two senior nurses to negotiate a retrenchment package.

She denied that there were plans to close the centre and discharge the 38 patients.

Harding said the 75-year-old Reea raises funds from donors and only receive a quarterly grant from government.