The last week has seen our family make use of the nearby Hillbrow Clinic on two separate occasions:
Friday 7 Sept:
Rachel had some kind of painful gum infection it seemed and so, having heard of up to 5 hour waits anywhere inside the Clinic, we nervously sat down at 7.10am at the back of a queue numbering about 25 people who were waiting in the Dental section. At about 7.45am things started moving as one by one new files were made for each person sitting down. This took a respectable 30 - 45 minutes. Then at about 8.45am people started to be called through to one of 3 dentists for their individual consultations. By the time we were at the front all the 30 seats behind us had filled up again! We went through to see the dentist at about 9.45am and as Rachel's gum infection was nothing more than her permanent molars coming out, we were finished by 10am, armed with 3 bottles of medicine to treat the minor condition! Quite a pleasant surprise, given that we had brought a blanket (for the cold - except it wasn't...) and some rather chunky reading material to get us through to at least 12am!
Mon 10 Sept:
Today it was Daniel and Hannah's turn for treatment at the dreaded general medical section. Dreaded because there are long queues in at least six different areas on the large ground floor. Arriving again at about 7am, we were ushered through to a queue of about 30 chairs full of sick adults and a very few kids. At 7.40am, 2 staff came to their desks and started the process of opening new files for all the people seated at that stage. One rather gruff man, employed elsewhere in the clinic, had made it his job to ensure people in this area were doing the right thing and that they understood the process from here on. He kindly spoke in English instead of Zulu so that I could follow too. Somewhere between 8.30 and 9am we had our two new files in hand and made our way to the weighing and temperature-taking section, where we waited for about 30 minutes while various sick babies and young children had excess clothing removed for these two processes. Sadly (and this was our only negative experience) an older nurse was being rather rude to all the mothers because they weren't responding quick enough to her instructions. A little love and understanding later and she was smiling and relaxed again, her previous mood maybe having been caused by the up to 30 patients she may have told the same thing to in these first two hours! The next queue was the processing one, where each patient was assigned to a different place in the clinic according to their condition. This was the shortest queue of only about 10 people and we were allocated to our doctor in about 15 minutes. So at about 9.30am we were finally led through to a bench outside the room of a very nice lady Dr McIvy, who spent a fair time examining both Hannah and Daniel for their coughs and splutters and gave us our medication then and there. Out by 9.50am...! Very impressive! Once we all have our own files, this could be a much shorter and even quite pleasant process.
Incidentally, one lady told me people start queueing at this clinic from 6am or before to receive their treatment.
One rather amusing moment was in the processing queue where Daniel started singing the national anthem...