RFM a patient's nightmare
MANZINI – The Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital (RFM) has admitted that it is struggling to cope with the ever-increasing volume of patients who seek medical attention from it.
Long queues at the health facility have resulted in patients collapsing and passing out while waiting to see either nurses or doctors.
Patients sometimes stand in line for more than three hours before they see the doctor.
Last week, at least three patients allegedly collapsed while waiting in line.
The patients fainted at different times as the last one collapsed in the afternoon.
It is alleged that one of the patients who collapsed had earlier complained that she had been waiting in the queue for a long time without being attended.
Mfundo Sibiya, a patient, said the patient who looked very sick complained saying he had been queuing for a long time but had not yet been seen by any of the doctors who were present.
"While we were still queuing, some of those we were with were complaining saying there were other two patients who had collapsed in the morning.
"The woman collapsed in the afternoon," he said.
"I believe it was because of the heat as we were all waiting in the queue to see the doctor. After she fainted, the nurses came and took her to the emergency room. I am not sure what happened thereafter as I was also waiting for my turn to see the doctor."
When journalists visited the hospital on Wednesday, outpatients complained about the queues.
They said at times, they were forced to wait more than three hours before they could be attended to by a doctor.
"It gets better after 11am because that is when the line begins to move quicker," said the patient.
"However, when you come here, you have no choice but to wait in line in order to see the doctor and leave on time."
Robinson Mkhaliphi, the hospital’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who was the acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) before the introduction of Beauty Makhubela, the hospital’s CEO, said they were aware of complaints from the patients and they were in the process of addressing them.
"One of the reasons we are experiencing such a problem is because of the high volume of patients coming to the hospital," he said.
"Each and every day, we try to make it a point that the patients are treated on time. However, this is not easy to do because of the number of patients who visit the hospital."
Mkhaliphi said they had had several meetings with the staff to try and find a solution.
"We are aware that this has been affecting the patients and as a hospital, we are trying all means to see to it that the patients get help as soon as possible," he said.
"One of our strategies is that as soon as all the other doctors are done with their morning rounds, they come to assist at the outpatient department. This helps reduce the long queues."
Asked specifically about the patients who fainted last week, Mkhaliphi said such incidences were to be expected, especially when a patient was very sick.
"I cannot deny that at times, patients collapse while in the queue but we always try to avoid such incidents and one of the ways is not to allow those who happen to be too sick to stand in a queue. There are nurses who check on the queuing patients from time to time in order to ensure that they are still fit to wait for their turn to see the doctor. If the nurse notices that the patient cannot wait any longer, that patient is then taken to the emergency room for examination."
Raymond Bitchong, the hospital’s Senior Medical Officer (SMO), said the patients who fainted were attended to immediately.
"We have had incidents where patients collapse and we act quickly because our mission is to save life," he said.
"As we speak, the Customer Care Officer and some of the nurses have been tasked with making sure patients are well taken care of. They are always close to the patients to see to it that they are happy while still waiting to see the doctor."
It’s work, work, work…
MANZINI – In a bid to reduce the long queues at the hospital, doctors and nurses now start working from as early as 5am.
This happens from Tuesday to Thursday. Raymond Bitchong, the hospital’s Senior Medical Officer (SMO) said some patients came to the hospital as early as 5am because they were rushing to work.
"Mostly, the patients who come so early are those undergoing diabetes therapy," he said. He said the nurses had volunteered to work extra hours because they could see that some of the patients ended up not seeing the doctor because of the long queues. "Here, we try to work as team and I believe that if we continue working like this, some of the problems will be a thing of the past."
Beauty Makhubela, RFM Hospital’s new CEO says improving the hospital was one of her main aims. In a brief interview, Makhubela said although she was currently being oriented as she was new to the position, she believed the hospital needed to work towards satisfying its clients, in this case being the patients.
"I can assure patients that the hospital will improve from where it is right now," she said.
600 patients per day
MANZINI – Senior Medical Officer Raymond Bitchong says
the long queues at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital (RFM) are a result of the high volume of patients who visit the hospital.
He said currently, doctors and nurses were attending to over 600 patients per day and therefore it was difficult for them to meet their target.
"Before, a patient had to first stand in the queue leading to the pay point and thereafter join another leading to the doctor’s consultation room," he said.
"If that patient has to undergo an X-ray examination, the patient then has to wait in another line leading to the pay point to pay for the examination and thereafter get the necessary help."
He said they then came up with a new plan which was for patients to pay only once for all the services they get from the hospital.
"We were trying to reduce the queues but this did not work. The number of people visiting the hospital continued to rise," he said.
"As we speak, we are trying to look at other ways that would help resolve the challenge we are currently facing. Bitchong said one of the challenges they were facing was that some people did not visit the clinic within their areas but instead preferred going to the RFM.
"You find that a patient from Lavumisa decides to come here, yet there are other clinics near the area where he or she could get help," he said.
"This is one thing that has led to the volume to be so high. However, we cannot stop the patients from visiting the hospital because our mandate is to help them."
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