Rural doctors go the extra mile. Then swim a river

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:
Mitchell

Dr John Mitchell

A Eastern Cape doctor blocked by protestors from reaching patients at a rural clinic hiked for kilometres with 25kg of medicine on his back and then swam across a river to reach them. The Times reports that Dr John Mitchell, 28, has been widely praised for going the extra mile to reach patients at Mzulwini clinic at Hole in the Wall on the Wild Coast after protesters had blocked the road recently.

The report says Mitchell works at Zithulele Hospital, also known as Zithulele Mission Hospital. The district hospital provides primary health care services for a catchment area of 130,000 people. “There was a protest over electricity. Cars and people were blocked from using the road but John did not allow that to prevent him from carrying out his duties,” said the hospital’s CEO, Nontsikelelo Matebese. “He wrapped the medication in plastics and put them inside a bag. He had to walk barefoot and at some point he had to swim through the river, as it had rained previously.”

The report says on his arrival at the clinic everyone was shocked. “We did not expect to see him,” said Matebese.

She described Mitchell as a hardworking individual who went beyond the call of duty in doing his job. “We have been quite impressed with his performance. He always goes the extra mile, he’s very eager to learn and understands the importance of team work,” said Matebese.

The report says Mitchell was not the only doctor who went the extra mile on the day of the protest. “We have another doctor, Dr Sityhilelo Majaja, who also could not get to the clinic. When he realised that the protesters had blocked the road, he actually went to one of their homes to request that he could park his car.” He then walked the rest of the way to work. It was really amazing to see. We are not perfect but quality patient care is our main priority as a hospital,” said Matebese.

The hospital caters for about 150 patients a day and has just over 140 admitted patients, according to the CEO.

The report says Dr Ndiviwe Mphothulo of the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa (Rudasa) executive committee applauded Mitchell’s effort. “A lot of people are not aware of the challenges that doctors situated in rural areas encounter. This is one example that we really had to showcase for people to see the good work that is being done by the doctors,” said Mphothulo. Matebese said the country could do with more people like Mitchell and Majaja.

The Times report

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