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Mediclinic Stellenbosch day clinic offers gift of sight

Last Friday, 25 October, Mediclinic Stellenbosch collaborated with the Western Cape Government and Paarl Hospital to provide pro bono cataract surgery to 20 patients currently on the public hospital’s waiting list.

The collaboration required patients from Paarl Hospital to be identified by their attending doctor as candidates for the surgery. These patients were then admitted to Mediclinic Stellenbosch Day Clinic, where Dr Steve Steyn, ophthalmologist at the facility, performed the first of two possible surgeries on the patients. In addition, Dr Auret Lochner and Dr Riaan Murray from Stellenbosch Anaesthetists assisted Dr Steyn.

These surgeries are the latest partnership between Mediclinic and provincial health departments across South Africa, aimed at sharing capacity available in the private sector.

“We have had a number of partnerships with Mediclinic hospitals over the years, and we are happy to report that these projects are helping us to shorten the patient waiting lists in our surgical theatres,” says Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, MEC of Health in the Western Cape.

Gale Shabangu, Chief Transformation Officer for Mediclinic Southern Africa, supports this view. “We believe strongly in sharing the expertise and capacity that we have available with the public sector. Our doctors have been highly enthusiastic about joining the partnership and we have seen more than 350 patients being assisted through various surgeries over the last three years. What is even more exciting is that, where necessary, many of these patients will undergo a second surgery early next year on the other eye. Their quality of life will be fully restored, which is reward enough for our team.”

Carol van Zyl, Hospital General Manager for Mediclinic Stellenbosch, is excited to have welcomed these patients into the recently opened day clinic. “Our staff were keen to assist in the surgeries. Having only opened in June this year, we have not yet had the opportunity to participate in the pro bono surgeries as other day clinics have done. Cataract surgery is a typical procedure suited to the streamlined day clinic environment and our nurses were keen to deliver the personal touch to all our patients.”

In 2017, Dr Steyn first performed pro bono cataract surgeries as part of the Mediclinic initiative with the Free State Provincial Health Department. “I see the impact on my patients almost immediately. My skills are being used to restore others’ quality of life and open opportunities that were closed due to their weakened eyesight. For me the decision to participate is a simple one.”

“Collaborations such as these often involve more than just doctors or nurses contributing to the event. We are fortunate that Bausch and Lomb has come on board to sponsor some of the consumables required for the surgery. By doing this, more patients can be accommodated within this partnership,” explains Van Zyl.

While these patients had surgery at Mediclinic Stellenbosch Day Clinic, they will continue the relationship with their existing doctor at Paarl Hospital, where they will receive their post-operative checkup.

“Mediclinic wants to make this process easy for them. We want to know and understand how we can create a workable solution for the future – how we can make the care process a streamlined one, as the NHI will require facilities to work closely together to ensure that the patient receives the best possible care in the most appropriate facility,” concludes Shabangu.

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