Much too often South Africans hear of horror stories about our public sector health facilities and the lack of care. So, during the health crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and an influx of patients with suspected COVID19, it is refreshing that Council for Health Service Accreditation of Southern Africa (COHSASA) personnel and their relatives have had positive experiences when attending public health clinics in Cape Town, specifically Tafelsig Clinic in Mitchell’s Plain run by Cape Town City Health and Hanover Park Day Hospital run by the Western Cape Province.

The COHSASA team has happy memories of working with Tafelsig Clinic when it was participating in the COHSASA accreditation programme. (COHSASA is a quality improvement organisation that assists health facilities reach high standards of care). Tafelsig was accredited three times against internationally recognised standards.

Memories aside, it seems quite fair to speculate whether the good service this clinic provides is, in part, due to the fact that certain beneficial processes and policies were put in place during the COHSASA programme persist to this day.

Being involved in setting standards and monitoring quality improvements in health facilities all around Africa makes our staff super sensitive to the level of care received and the implications for quality care and patient safety.

So, it is good to hear that they have felt cared for and health staff have gone out of their way to ensure that patients are carefully checked and cared for. Of course, things do go wrong, and we know that but these stories may go some way to dispel the overarching negativity that we might be feeling about everything at the moment.

Our resident Travel Coordinator, Roselyne October observed this about the City of Cape Town’s Tafelsig Clinic, situated in Kilimanjaro Street in Mitchell’s Plain:

“My mom- in-law of 83 had a nagging cough and after a few days she was tested at Tafelsig Clinic. On arrival she was assisted with great care to fill out the form. They checked her weight, her blood pressure, took bloods and took her temperature and told she had to wait a few minutes. She said it was a bit sore and she became quite tearful but happy she did it for peace of mind. She has not received results as to whether she is COVID19 positive, but she is feeling much better and her cough is almost gone.

Even though she was scared I think the staff really did an outstanding job.

Thank you to Tafelsig Clinic staff, I know during this period it’s not easy, but you really live out your oath daily for the community.”

Dr Paul Nkurunziza, acting Director for City Health, and his team commented:

“It is wonderful to read such a positive story. At City Health we take client satisfaction and the Batho Pele principles very seriously. It is heart-warming to see the Tafelsig management and team actually putting them into practice. It is also clear that our long association with COHSASA continues to bear fruit in the way our staff approach their work in general and their clients in particular. To Tafelsig Facility Manager and your team, we say ‘Well done! You have totally embraced the patient centred approach.’

Another COHSASA team member, Cheryl Adams, had this to say about her experience at Hanover Park Day Hospital.

“My mother and daughter are both patients at Hanover Park Day Hospital.  Since the beginning of the lockdown, the facility started delivering patients’ chronic medication at home, thus removing the need for patients to physically collect them.

“The normal procedure is for patients to see a doctor every six months for a script for the medication.  Due to the pandemic and lockdown, the scripts were extended from 6 months to 12 months.

“My mother has pulmonary hypertension and is required to have a blood test done every six weeks.  When she visits the facility, she is not expected to wait at reception.  She is allowed to go straight to the relevant department to draw blood and is in and out of the facility within half an hour.  The next day they call her to let her know the correct dosage of Warfarin that she should take. From a patient perspective, I’m impressed with the changes the day hospital implemented to accommodate and limit risk to patients.”

Dr Keith Cloete, Head of the Western Cape Health Department says: “It is heart-warming to us all when a member of the public takes the time and makes the effort to give recognition to our staff members. I am immensely proud of the frontline staff of the Western Cape Department of Health, that continue to serve our communities with humility, empathy and compassion, during this difficult time”.