Mediclinic Bloemfontein leads the way in paediatric emergency care

Posted on 20 Oct 2020

The new head of the Emergency Centre brings a lifelong love for emergency medicine, and a Master’s degree, to a family-minded community.

Mediclinic Bloemfontein’s new Emergency Centre head is an expert in providing fast, efficient critical care to our littlest, most vulnerable patients, and not just because she’s a mother to two of her own. Earlier this year, she graduated with a master’s degree in paediatric emergency medicine from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Since she began in her role as the head of the Emergency Centre at Mediclinic Bloemfontein in April 2019, Dr Michelle Myburgh has been enjoying a journey of growth. “Being a wife and mother of two girls had its challenges, but with steady hard work over a long period it turned out to be a rewarding process. We see adults and children, of course, and treat all manner of illnesses and injuries – but the principles I learnt from my studying have influenced the way we care for all our patients.”

That spirit of growth permeates the hospital, which is also reaching for new heights. Mediclinic Bloemfontein has applied to the Trauma Society of South Africa to be recognised as a Level 1 Trauma Centre. This means the Emergency Centre is capable of providing leadership and total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention through rehabilitation, and has 24-hour availability of all major specialties with a trauma surgeon as director.

Dr Myburgh’s passion for emergency medicine was ignited in her second year pursuing a degree in astrophysics. “I knew I wasn’t doing the right course and felt called towards medicine,” she says. “So I completed my basic ambulance assistant course during this year and spent many hours working with paramedics on the road between continuing my degree and applying for medical school.”

She was given the chance to specialise further when asked to found a paediatric emergency department at the state hospital where she completed her community service, and again when she was awarded a full scholarship for the online, three-year postgraduate degree, where her classmates ranged from paediatric intensivists in Ghana to emergency registrars in Australia. The course focuses on equipping students with the tools necessary to manage a team approach to trauma and surgical emergencies and the unique effects these can have on children.

Dr Myburgh says treating children is not significantly different from treating adults, but what matters is the approach the doctors take. “Kids are vulnerable and can feel confused and even threatened in a hospital environment,” she explains. “The majority of the cases we see are children with lacerations, broken bones, sometimes choking. Even a small injury could take a long-lasting emotional toll, if it is not treated with sensitivity.

“So our approach must adapt: we must make them feel safe, cared for, comfortable. There are specific clinical interventions required for young victims of trauma, and we run paediatric emergency simulations to help staff remain calm and up to date when the real emergency comes – but to create the conditions we need to treat them properly, first, we need a calm patient who is informed and comfortable.”

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