Diane Norton, Bothasig
On Tuesday October 11, my husband had a very painful, swollen mouth, which we tried treating with home remedies, but by the afternoon, when he couldn’t bear the pain anymore, I took him to Bothasig clinic.
Admittedly it was rather late, 3.45pm, and the staff were closing windows and getting ready to leave.
The receptionist informed us that it was too late to see the doctor and she had to leave because her lift was waiting.
I was rather distraught and asked whether pain-killers could be given in the meantime, but we were told to come back the next day.
The following morning, we were getting ready to attend the clinic when it opened at 7am, but before we could leave, my husband collapsed face down, unconscious on the floor, injuring his chest and knee.
It took me a few minutes to revive him, and at least 15 minutes before he could get up. When he felt more stable, I took him to the clinic where he was attended to.
The treatment then was good. They did an ECG, took blood and tested his blood pressure. The doctor examined him and said an abscess in his mouth had caused septicaemia which had coursed through his body and so caused the collapse. He prescribed a strong antibiotic with instructions to come back if it got worse.
The abscess healed and my husband was fine until Thursday November 17 when it reared its ugly head again. Once more his face started swelling, and he had a lot of pain.
We do not own a car and have to wait until a family member’s car is available, so we went to the Bothasig clinic at 2.45pm thinking it was still early and the doctor could give him another course of antibiotics.
On handing his card in at reception, the receptionist told us it was too late; the staff had worked enough for the day and we should come back the next day. I told her we would not have transport the next day and to please just help him to get an antibiotic because I feared a repeat of the first time.
A nursing sister, who I think was in charge, then came along and asked some nurses to check my husband’s blood pressure and temperature. Then she came back and said she’d spoken to the doctor who said my husband was not in any danger and she was too busy to see him.
She then went on to tell me that if he should get sick later, I should take him to Karl Bremer Hospital. I was very upset by this and told her I would make this complaint public. But she just walked away.
My husband is 69 years old and we have been living in Bothasig for 34 years. We were so happy when we heard Bothasig clinic was at last going to get a doctor, but after this incident we refuse to set foot there again.
Thursday and Friday night were sleepless nights for us because he was in so much pain, in his mouth, neck and head. Yesterday, he started on an antibiotic which we obtained privately. What I want to know is who is the clinic there for if an elderly sick man is turned away at 2.45pm when they close at 4pm?
Western Cape Department of Health spokesman Zolani Zenzile responds: The Department of Health can confirm that the patient visited Bothasig Community Day Centre on Tuesday October 11.
The doctor’s diagnosis was a dental abscess for which the patient was treated and given a follow-up date if there was no improvement. The patient returned on Monday October 17, at 3.55pm. The facility was under pressure due to unforeseen staff shortages on that particular day, and the patient was then asked to return the following day as he presented no signs of emergency.
Patients with serious and life-threatening emergencies are prioritised first and those with non-emergencies are attended to once all emergency cases have been attended to, hence the request for him to return the next day.