Patients turned away from un-air-conditioned dental clinic

After queuing from as early as 03:00, patients were turned away after staff refused to work in the un-air-conditioned facility.

06 December 2021 | Health

ESTER KAMATI







WINDHOEK

Patients were turned away by staff members of the Katutura State Hospital’s dental clinic on Wednesday after they allegedly boycotted attending to patients in protest for not having air conditioning at the facility.

One of the patients, who arrived at the clinic at 03:00 to avoid long queues, was left disgruntled after he had to leave the dental clinic after 09:00 with his aching tooth still intact.

According to another patients, who spoke to Namibian Sun anonymously, it is customary for patients to start queuing up from 03:00 and waiting until the clinic opens at 08:00 to be assisted.

Initially, staff members told about 100 patients that they would soon be attended to, but after some time, staff allegedly locked the clinic doors.

Following what seemed to be a meeting between staff, patients were informed that they would not be assisted until further notice.

“We are sorry to inform you that we are not working today because we do not have air cons,” the staff allegedly told patients, adding that it was hot and they cannot work in the heat.

“Yesterday patients were fainting here. We do not know what to write on the report or what to tell your family. We are boycotting until they provide us with air cons,” the staff allegedly said.

N$600 for a tooth

A patient told Namibian Sun that without medical aid, he had to fork out over N$600 for a private dentist to extract his tooth, which had been causing him discomfort for some time.

“I did not want to spend the festive season with this problem and had to remove it urgently.”

He added that he is fortunate enough to be able to access the private facility. “There were people there in pain. How will they survive? And they are being turned back and they don’t know when they would be able to obtain services.”

He attributed the incident to staff being uninspired, stating that they cannot be blamed, but rather their bosses for not providing them with a conducive environment.

We don’t know

When approached for comment, health ministry executive director Ben Nangombe said the issue had not reached his desk, and he therefore could not comment.

Meanwhile, Khomas director of health Tomas Ukola initially said he had no knowledge of the incident either, but after consulting with the clinic, he told Namibian Sun that the dental clinic would only be attending to “emergency cases”. He, however, failed to provide clarity on which cases are considered emergencies.

“The dental clinic did not close on Wednesday. The clinic is still attending to emergency cases, children and elderly patients. Unfortunately, the booked cases were temporarily halted due to sudden malfunctioning of the chillers [air conditioning],” he said.

He added that the ministry of works had been called on site to assess the possible cause of the matter, which he said is being “attended to swiftly”.

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