Dozens of pensioners, pregnant women and children lined up outside the Debe Health Centre for more than three hours on Thursday morning awaiting a security guard to open the gates.
During the wait, one man fainted in the heat and two pregnant women, Ornella Maharaj and Veera Sookdeo, had to leave because they could not bear standing in the blistering heat. Even nursing staff and senior medical personnel stood by the gates until the security staff arrived around 9.15 am and opened the gate. The officer from Paragon Security was heard telling patients that it was not her fault as she got called to work late.
Hamid Khan said it was customary for the security guard to pick up the keys from the Debe Police Post and open the health centre by 7.30 am. However, several times this week the guard failed to do this, resulting in a delayed opening of the facility at Wellington Road, Debe. Some of the patients, many of whom were pensioners, said they were disappointed in the management of the Southwest Regional Health Authority.
Boysie Juman said, "This is incompetence at the highest level. They normally open here by 7.30 am but many people come here as early as 6 am so they can get an early number."
Sookdeo Kanchan, 81, who fell outside the health centre because of weakness, said he was also disappointed.
"If we have to wait we will wait but we should be made to suffer outside like this," Kanchan said.
Halima Khan also said she went to the centre to do a blood test but was turned away.
"They told me that because of the number of people waiting here they cannot do it. I have to be rescheduled," Khan added.
Amputee Bhadase Sookraj, who survived three heart attacks and two strokes, was also forced to go home without getting his blood tests and medical checkup.
Another man who identified himself as "Mouth" said the manager of the health centre should have gone to the police station and got the keys to open the centre.
"Why they waiting for the security guard? If the security gets in an accident or has an emergency, does this mean everyone here should be inconvenienced while they wait for the security to open? No! This is craziness. Look at how many poor sick people waiting for health care. This should not happen," Mouth said.
Contacted yesterday, an official of Paragon Security Consultants said he did not have information on the matter and could not comment. He said the managing director would contact Guardian Media.
Chief Executive Officer of the Southwest Regional Health Authority Keith Mc Donald could not be reached for comment as calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.