Joint effort: pro bono partnership unlocks healthier future 

Posted on 2 Dec 2021

Mediclinic’s commitment to working with local departments of health is stronger than ever.  

Mediclinic is driving healthcare into the future through several ground-breaking initiatives that put the patient first. From specialised renal clinics in the community to innovative, all-in-one oncology treatment centres, our continuum of care is expanding to ensure Mediclinic’s signature expertise is more accessible than ever.

Working closely with hospitals in the state sector is another key innovation in our ongoing drive to establish a better normal.

“We’re very excited,” says Bob Govender, Industry Affairs Executive: Mediclinic SA. “Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we helped facilitate 300 pro bono surgeries in a single year, across the country. Now that the third wave has subsided, we’re beginning to pick up momentum again. We have an excellent relationship with all the provincial governments where we operate, and we’ve managed to do quite a lot of surgeries in different provinces.”

Doctors at Mediclinic Constantiaberg recently performed nine hip- and knee-replacement procedures for patients who’ve been on a waiting list for surgery at Victoria Hospital, in Cape Town.

Waiting list challenges

“These patients have osteoarthritis of the hips and knees,” explains Dr Deon Engela, an orthopaedic surgeon at Mediclinic Constantiaberg. “Over the years, we’ve noticed that patients face challenges in receiving surgery once they’re on the state waiting list, due largely to a shortage in theatre time, trained staff and specialist skills.”

“These are relatively young, active people who play a crucial role in the community,” adds Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Health. “When someone must wait for years for a hip replacement, they’re being taken out of the market, out of employment and the economy. So, when we’re able to partner with Mediclinic to reduce the surgical waiting list, it’s a huge benefit.”

The collaboration is part of an ongoing partnership between Mediclinic and state departments of health all over South Africa. “We engage the departments on a regular basis to work out their surgical backlogs and how we can assist,” says Govender. “We then speak to our hospitals to ascertain spare capacity, and with the doctors affiliated with us, to see who’s willing to participate in assisting the provincial hospitals.”

The orthopaedic surgeries were made possible by a collaboration between Mediclinic, Victoria Hospital, the Joint Care Trust, a non-profit organisation, and Advanced Orthopaedics, which provided the prosthetic implants required for surgery.

Dr Engela, together with Dr Paul Rowe and Dr Nick Martin, established the Joint Care Trust in 2012 to assist with hip and knee replacement surgery for public sector patients. “The aim was to help hospitals in rural or peripheral areas to acquire the skills necessary to perform these procedures on a regular basis, and to help ordinary people walk without pain again.”

Wonderful opportunity

One of the doctors to benefit from this mentorship is Dr Woyisile Nkomo, an orthopaedic surgeon with an interest in hip and knee replacement, who was trained in Cape Town and works in the public sector in QwaQwa. “The hospital where I am working now hasn’t had an orthopaedic surgeon for a long time, so this is a wonderful opportunity; by working with these implants and under the guidance of Dr Engela, I’ve been able to fine-tune the skills I learned during my fellowship, which was in hip and knee arthroplasty. It’s been a real privilege.”

The prosthetic implants used in the surgeries were donated by Advanced Orthopaedics, the local distributor for Medacta International. “We recognise that a lot of patients on these waiting lists really suffer,” says John Bisset, CEO: Advanced Orthopaedics. “When you meet the patients and see how gratified and pain-free they are once they’ve had the surgery, it really brings home that we have a responsibility to support initiatives like this.”

Mediclinic Constantiaberg is proud to play a role, too. “This is a crucial project that allows us to bring real benefits throughout our local community,” says Henk Laskey, Hospital General Manager: Mediclinic Constantiaberg. “If we can use our spare capacity to help people get back to their lives and families, without pain, then we must. We’re very excited to see where we can lend a helping hand.”



Published in Business