Mediclinic collaborates with the Free State Department of Health

Posted on 8 December 2017

For Hannes van der Merwe, a 72-year-old artist whose cloudy vision had made it impossible for him to paint his beloved landscapes, and Maria Gotyana, an elderly grandmother whose failing eyesight made sewing and housework an impossibility, Wednesday 29 November was a memorable day.

These two Bongani Regional Hospital patients, alongside 20 others, benefited from a collaborative eye care initiative between Mediclinic and the Free State Department of Health – they had been fast-tracked for life-changing cataract surgeries.

In an effort to assist in alleviating the burden of long surgery waiting lists at public hospitals, 22 cataract surgeries were performed on that day at Mediclinic Welkom. This forms part of a broader initiative: Mediclinic is collaborating with the public sector by performing 100 operations on patients currently awaiting surgery in many of the busiest public sector hospitals.

Dr Steve Steyn, the ophthalmic surgeon who performed the procedures on a pro-bono basis, says that restoring someone’s sight is the best feeling in the world. ‘Seeing a person smile the next day – and be able to perform his normal duties with crystal clear vision – makes me love my job. I’ll definitely do it again,’ Dr Steyn says.

Over the last ten years Mediclinic has successfully collaborated with various Departments of Health across the country to provide support in broadening access to healthcare services. Between September and December of this year, the first round of this Private Public Initiative (PPI) procedures was carried out at four Mediclinic hospitals in the Western Cape, either by doctors associated with Mediclinic or from the public sector. Operations included cataract, urology and tympanoplasty (eardrum repair) procedures. The Welkom cataract surgeries mark the programme’s extension to the Free State province.

‘Mediclinic Welkom is excited about the chance we have to give back to some of our community members,’ says Frans van Niekerk, the Hospital General Manager of Mediclinic Welkom. ‘While cataract surgery is a relatively simple procedure, the effects of the operation can be life-changing.’

These procedures will help broaden access to quality healthcare for all South Africans as part of a Private Public Initiative (PPI). Mediclinic’s participation is based on shared capacity and expertise between the private and public healthcare sectors.

‘This partnership with Mediclinic ensures we are able to reduce the surgical backlog that we have in certain districts,’ says Polelo Sekhothe, Deputy Director General, Clinical Health Services: Free State Department of Health. ‘We encourage other private partners to join this initiative – to ensure that universal health coverage (that is envisaged for 2025) becomes successful.’

Published in CSI