New booking system at Retreat CHC

Retreat CHC

There is a general consensus that when one goes to the local community health centre, there is a waiting period, depending on the circumstances of your visit.

Over the years Southern Mail has received numerous complaints from communities about the waiting times to be seen by health professionals – many claiming they are usually at the clinic or community health centre for the entire day from 7am and are only helped later in the afternoon or evening.

Retreat resident and community leader Aubrey Robinson told the Southern Mail about incidents where his family members visited the facility and endured long waiting periods.

His 87-year-old mother had an appointment for 11.30am and was only seen to after 6pm. The same happened to Mr Robinson’s sister.

“Her appointment was at 10.30am, she only got seen by a doctor after 3pm and then she had to wait for the pharmacy to open after 5pm. It happens to many other people and most of the people who wait there are hungry and have nothing; they drink from the water from the taps in the facility’s toilets.”

A waiting time survey was done at Retreat CHC last month and certain bottlenecks were discovered in the system, said Retreat CHC health committee chairperson Mark Solomons.

Mr Rossouw said the committee is aware of the waiting periods and the outcome of the survey shows that there are bottlenecks in the facility’s current system. Some of the bottlenecks is because patients take their folders home and another major issue is patients who do not adhere to their appointment time or date.

He encouraged patients to come to bookings at their expected time and date and not earlier or later.

“People don’t come on their bookings dates or times. These patients can’t be sent home without help so they are assisted by staff which causes a delays. It throws the whole system out.”

He also implored patients not to take their folders home.

To avert the long waiting times health staff at the Retreat Community Health Centre are implementing a booking system to streamline services and improve waiting times.

The new system means the hospital is now divided into two separate areas for chronic and acute patients.

Facility manager Sister Susan Meyer said it is therefore important for patients to help staff by telling reception the reason for their visit when they enter the premises.

“You will be asked their reasons for visiting by our reception interns, in order to ensure that you are sent to the correct area and have the shortest waiting time possible. Please tell our reception staff if you are attending for your chronic booking or a new (acute) health issue.”

This way the patient will be helped quicker with the strategic booking system so that patients are aware of the times they should visit the facility and where they must go.

Sister Meyer said patients who did not take their medication or did not adhere to their bookings during Covid-19 because they feared infection will not be turned away: “We want to ensure that you are well and brought back into the system.”

To help navigate the improved service flow, Sister Meyer and the Retreat health team answered some of the questions you might have:

Q: When am I an acute patient and how will I be assisted?

A: You are an acute patient if you are experiencing a health problem that you are not receiving treatment for. You can then come any day, without a booking. If it is not an emergency come during normal working hours. You will be triaged based on how severe your illness is – the elderly and young emergency patients are fast-tracked when possible.

Emergency patients will be seen in the trauma unit, patients who need to be admitted to hospital will be referred to Victoria, Groote Schuur or Red Cross Hospital via ambulance and X-ray services are only available during the day.

Q: When am I a chronic patient and how will I be assisted?

A: You are a chronic patient if you have a chronic illness like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, TB, or HIV. These are medical problems that you take chronic tablets for every day.

All booked chronic patients will be called according to their appointment time.

Q: What if I am a chronic patient without an appointment (unbooked)?

A: All unbooked patients who feel unwell, will be sent for observations with a nurse once the booked clients have been attended to. If your medical condition is dangerously uncontrolled, you will be seen by a doctor the same day, but you may have to wait for your turn. If you are well (stable) you will be issued with your chronic medication and will be booked for a follow-up chronic appointment if there is no capacity to see you on the same day.

To make your visit as smooth as possible, Sister Meyer advises that you keep to your booking date and time for your chronic visit as this will help to reduce your waiting times. “If you are ever sick before your next appointment date, please come to the facility as an acute visit during the day or after-hours if it is an emergency.”

For more information regarding your bookings, contact the facility reception team on 021 713 9800.