Patients at the Retreat Community Health Centre (CHC) can expect a few major changes from today, Wednesday June 1.
The provincial health department has taken over all services at the community health centre to offer a more integrated health service as of this month.
Southern Mail was invited to a walkabout of the facility as well as the clinic adjacent to the CHC, to give a clearer idea of what the transformations are.
Some of the changes that have taken place impact what is commonly known as the baby clinic.
Before, City of Cape Town staff were in charge of family planing and baby care, but this responsibility has now been shifted to the Western Cape Health Department.
Before the move, there were only nurses available at the clinic but with the new integrated health service, doctors will be available as well.
This means that all children under 12, except for those in emergency cases, will be treated at the clinic. Family planning will also still be available at the baby clinic.
Because of the integration, only one entrance and one exit point will be used for all patients at both the Retreat CHC and the clinic.
Another major change was the transfer of the HIV and TB services to the building at the Retreat CHC – before, it was housed in a building adjacent to the clinic.
The health department is also trying to encourage patients and staff to wear masks, which all patients are offered when they visit the facility.
This initiative forms part of the department’s 2030 Health care framework to try and make communities healthier.
Facility manager Henry Lemmetjies said, however, that TB patients are not a health risk to other patients.
“People need to understand that it is the ones that sit at the facility and don’t know their status that are more of a risk of being contagious, while those who are on treatment are not a risk at all,” said Mr Lemmetjies.
“This is why we are asking patients to wear masks for their own safety,” he said.
Monique Johnstone, the department’s southern principal communication’s officer, said people often stigmatise those with TB.
“We have started implementing the masking at the facility with patients and staff and many people think that it’s because the TB patients have moved over to the facility. This is not true. Those TB patients are not a risk to anyone at the facility. It is the ones who don’t know that they have TB that spread the disease,” said Ms Johnstone.
She added that many other airborne viruses and diseases can also be avoided if patients wear masks.
Charlynn Soekers from Retreat welcomed the changes.
“I didn’t really have any complaints at the health centre before, only that it takes a long time for doctors to see patients and as a result people sit for hours without being helped,” said the mother of two.
“Now that my children can go over to the clinic this will make my life much easier. Before I had to go sit at the clinic with my 5 month old and at the health centre for my 6 year old when she got sick. Now all the services for the children is under one roof making it safer because they won’t be sitting amongst adults who could potentially infect them with other illnesses,” she said.
John Fritz said he was initially worried about the move of the TB services.
“I thought that if you come onto contact with someone with TB thay you will become infected but I’ve learnt that that isn’t really true. It’s those that don’t know they have it that I should be worried about. From now on I will wear my mask to keep myself safe and I will advise others to do the same,” said Mr Fritz.
blob The dental clinic (which has been closed because of vandalism) will be closed until further notice. Patients are advised to attend Lotus River Health Clinic.