Short-staffed Richard Morris Hospital turning away patients

Short-staffed Richard Morris Hospital, a division of the United Bulawayo Hospitals, specialising in eye treatment is turning away some patients as it cannot cope with demand for its services, CITE can report.

The only public specialist eye hospital in the Southern part of Zimbabwe is only attending to what they consider ‘emergencies’ while the rest are being rebooked for 2022.

The development has left many people with eye ailments some of whom have to travel long distances to access the hospital stranded, with consultation fees charged by private doors beyond the reach of many.

Despite the requirement that patients book in advance before accessing a doctor at the hospital, some still get turned away on days when there are few doctors at the health institution.

The new requirement is that patients only pay the consultation fee only after the doctor has given them a number and agreed to see them.

This has resulted in patients who are required to be at the hospital at 0730hours taking longer than necessary at the institution as they have to be first screened by a doctor before proceeding to pay consultation fees before being checked by a doctor.

What has further compounded the situation is the fact that the hospital had during the greater 2020 and this year been attending to critical cases only owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, something that disrupted periodic reviews for many patients.

CITE this week visited the hospital and witnessed a number of people being turned away after the doctor set to attend them had to first tell them he was the only one available hence he would only attend to critical cases.

Those turned away were given review dates starting from April 2022.

Nurses at the hospital apologised for the development, which they said was beyond their control.

“Unfortunately there is nothing that we can do as nurses,” said one nurse to patients that had come to the hospital.

“We only do what the doctors tell us to do. If your condition is not considered an emergency, we will rebook you to come at a later date next year. For this year we are already fully booked.”

However, the situation at Richard Morris has not gone down well with many people who took their loved ones for treatment at the hospital.

“We have just been told to come back in April next year, can you imagine!” said one man who had brought his father to the hospital.

“They are just rebooking us just for the sake of it as there is no guarantee that when we come back next year we will be attended to. What if the situation has gotten worse? This country is turning out to be something else.”

Some people who had travelled from rural areas said it was unfair for the hospital to turn them away after incurring transport costs to come to the hospital.

“Next year is just too far away for me, I would have completely lost my sight,” another man was overheard saying.

UBH acting chief executive officer, Dr Narcisius Dzvanga, said he was not aware of the developments at Richard Morris, requesting that he be contacted next Tuesday.

“Absolutely nobody told me about that,” said Dzvanga.

“You can phone on Tuesday. I am out of the office. I am travelling to Harare. You are the first person to tell me that there is a problem there.”

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