Working with Hospitals and Clinics

Coordinators work closely with the Health Department on issues of rape, domestic violence and when giving presentations. They make appointments with hospitals for sick clients and rape victims who need examinations, often arranging transport, accompanying clients and driving them themselves. They also receive referrals for counselling and the taking of statements after patients have been discharged.

Zandile Khanyile, Sept 2008: Taking a Starving Child to a Clinic

Starving childAt the beginning of August, a lady came to my office with a child who was about 2 years old. The lady was from Lesotho and I could not understand her language.

Her baby’s body was swollen from head to toe. The neck was very tiny. She was unable to walk because of her swollen feet. I held back my tears because it was the first time that I had ever seen something like this.

I took them to the clinic where the doctor examined her and informed me that she had kwashiorkor, caused by malnourishment. The doctor referred them to Northdale Hospital. An ambulance was called, which took them to the hospital. Before the ambulance arrived, the doctor gave the child a Yogi-sip to drink. I was so shocked by the way she drank and finished it so quickly.

Lucky Mkhize, March 2008: Taking a Dying Child to Hospital Dying child

A lady aged 32 years was brought to our office by her uncle. The lady has a 4-year-old HIV positive son. She is also HIV positive. The uncle reported that the lady locked the child inside the house and went to drink liquor. This was not the first time. She even leaves him alone at night sometimes. The child was terminally ill and needed to go to hospital, but she refused.

I held in my tears at the extent of the child’s sickness. His breathing was so bad that I was scared that the child would die there and then.

When I spoke to her about her behaviour, she said that she is scared to stay with a sick child. Her other child who was HIV positive died in her arms alone in the house. The reason why she did not want to go to hospital was that they do not help her there. She had been to the hospital several times with the child. Sometimes they discharged them without having given them treatment.

I then phoned an ambulance because the child was so sick. While waiting for the ambulance, I took the child to the clinic. A few minutes later, the ambulance came and took the mother and child to hospital.

Lucky Mkhize, Jan 2008: Working with a Doctor to obtain a Disability Grant
Client with cane
Background information: Clients often have a problem with the disability grant, since if a person is HIV-positive and very ill, but has a CD4 count above 200, they do not qualify for the benefit.

A lady aged 48 came to our office from KwaQanda and reported that her disability grant had been stopped because her CD4 count is 490 and it has to be below 200 for her to continue to receive the grant. The problem was that the disease has left her partially paralyzed. Her one hand does not work at all and the other is weak. It seems to be a permanent condition. She uses a cane to walk and we had to assist her to enter the office because we have stairs.

She was being treated at CAPRISA Clinic which deals with HIV positive people only. She had been to CAPRISA to see the doctor for him to fill in the forms so that she could continue receiving a disability grant, but the receptionist refused to let her see him and told her there was nothing the doctor could do for her because of her high CD count.

I phoned CAPRISA and was told that because of her high CD4 count the doctor would not see her. I phoned the Social Welfare Department and they told me that the doctor at CAPRISA would first have to fill in the forms and write down that high CD4 count before they could asses her physical problem and let her continue to have the grant.
Lucky Mkhize and disabled clients
Two days later I arranged transport for her because if she has to board a bus she needs someone to carry her. There is no direct transport from KwaQanda to CAPRISA. She would have had to use three different transports to reach CAPRISA at Mafakatini.

At CAPRISA I spoke to Dr Mdluli and he explained that my client’s problem at Social Welfare was caused by an instruction from the Board and that he would be having a meeting with the Social Welfare Department.

My client was walking to the clinic and he recognized her because she had been his patient for the last two years. He apologised for refusing to see her and said that because she is severely paralysed he would recommend that she receive a permanent disability grant even though her CD4 count is high.

(Above) Disabled members of the community with coordinator Lucky Mkhize, receiving wheelchairs that she organised for them from sponsors.

He said that he had been monitoring her progress from bad to worse and if he had known that it was her, he would have filled in the forms without examining her or even in her absence. Dr Mdluli then filled in the forms and we were happy. Sometimes it is better to accompany our clients because it is more effective than talking on the phone.

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