Wits University Campus Health is under serious performance pressure due to being short staffed since last year November.
Staff at Wits University’s only health clinic are under severe strain owing to a lack of personnel. Since November 2016, The Wits Campus Health and Wellness Centre (WCHWC) has been seriously short-staffed resulting in difficult working conditions for the nurses who attend to the bulk of the patients, most of whom are students.
Currently there are only three sisters are working in the clinic following the resignations and retirement of three other nurses at the end of last year. One of the posts will be filled from May but the other two remain vacant. Sister Maggie Moloi, acting Head of Department at WCHWC, said, “The three sisters at the clinic would be managing the workload well if they were no interruptions like working as taxi drivers”. According to Moloi, the WCHWC has seen more than 1500 students since the beginning of the academic year, with nurses serving many students daily with restricted resources.
Patients can wait up to 45 minutes to be treated as opposed to the usual 15 minutes, said Moloi. Due the under-staffing, each nurse has to treat between 18-20 patients per day, a significant increase on their their usual 15. This affects the quality of service that the nurses are able to provide to the patients.
Moloi said the staffing issues are complicated by the nurses being called to attend to students on campus rather than seeing students in the clinic itself. “Students can make the situation easier by making an appointment or come directly to the clinic and stop abusing the sisters [who are] being utilised as drivers to fetch patients (which are non-emergencies in most cases) from around the campus”, Moloi said. As a result, patients in the clinic face a much longer wait.
The Education Campus Health Centre has also been beset by staffing issues with only one temporary sister running the facility since it reopened at the beginning of this month. “Education campus is so busy, the first day the Sister did not have time to open and pack the medication. It has been very very hard but getting new staff will make a difference,” Moloi said.
A Wits student who collects her medication on a regular basis from Campus Health said she was disappointed at the lack of communication from WCHWC about the situation.
Candice Chirwa, BA Honours, who collects medication regularly from WCHWC said “I had to wait longer than usual to see the nurse … She did not read my BP number and never had a conversation with me as she would normally do about how my treatment is going.”
Wits University senior communications officer Buhle Zuma said that despite the staffing issues, the nurses at WCHWC have attended to all student patients. “Campus Health staff do not normally work after hours, however, Wits nurses are conscientious and have a high work ethic. No student inside the clinic has been denied assistance due to operational hours.”
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