Mediclinic Milnerton opens its doors to state patients for the third time

Posted on 5 March 2019

Four young patients from Groote Schuur Hospital underwent pro bono orthopaedic surgery at Mediclinic Milnerton, as the hospital took part in the ongoing collaborative partnership between the Western Cape Department of Health and Mediclinic.

“I never had to think about simple things, like walking,” says Rameez, 22. “Now, if the ground is uneven and I just step wrong I’m in pain for the rest of the day.”

Orthopaedic injuries are common in athletes who regularly push the limits of their bodies in the pursuit of sporting success. But they are also traumatic injuries that can have a debilitating effect on everyday life. Now four such patients – who all require much-needed ACL reconstruction surgery – have a second shot at glory, thanks to a series of pro bono procedures at Mediclinic Milnerton on Friday, 1 March.

In the past two years, Mediclinic has performed over 200 surgeries for patients on public-sector waiting lists across South Africa. These include ENT, urology, cataract and even some heart or neurological procedures, and the pro bono surgeries have assisted in fostering stronger relationships between the private sector and various provincial departments of health.

Professor Michael Held, an orthopaedic surgeon and Head of the Knee Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital, was invited to perform the much-needed ACL reconstruction surgeries, using the facilities and spare capacity at Mediclinic Milnerton.

These pro bono soft tissue knee injury surgeries will help prevent chronic, irreversible and debilitating joint damage for the four young patients, and allow them to get back to their sports and work earlier. Sbusiso, 30, says his injuries seem to get worse without proper surgical treatment. “I actually hurt my knee eight years ago, but the swelling went down and the pain wasn’t too bad. Last year was different. I hurt my knee again playing rugby – I’d never seen my knee so swollen.”

An added benefit: their surgery slots at Groote Schuur Hospital will be filled with patients in dire need of surgery. As state hospitals face an increasing number of trauma patient cases, elective surgeries are often pushed to the back of the queue. “The partnership with Mediclinic Milnerton is an opportunity to improve the quality of life of our patients, many of whom are young and active,” says Dr Belinda Jacobs, medical services manager of Groote Schuur Hospital.

This is the third time the hospital has been involved in facilitating this ongoing public-private partnership. Andri Bell, theatre unit manager at Mediclinic Milnerton, says these surgeries are a point of pride for the hospital. “This is the third set of surgeries we have performed here, and each time we are able to assist a few more patients – changing their lives significantly. All this because parties were able to interact and find opportunities to assist each other.”

The invitation to Professor Held to perform these surgeries at Mediclinic Milnerton is nonetheless relatively unique, says Bob Govender, Industry Affairs Executive: Mediclinic Southern Africa. “This is only the second time that we have been able to make the full theatre and nursing infrastructure available to a surgeon from a state hospital,” he says. “Usually our surgeries involve partnering with doctors from the private sector, and working on patients from the public sector waiting lists. We are delighted that we can jointly develop real solutions to the challenges facing our counterparts.”

Nicky Arpesella Physiotherapists also contributed resources to this initiative by sending a team of physios to assist the patients post-surgery.

Another patient, Reginald, who is 17, says he might take it a little easier after surgery. “I’m looking forward to doing athletics after I recover. My mom is done with rugby.”

Nicky Arpesella, physiotherapist, physiotherapy

A physiotherapist from Nicky Arpesella Physiotherapists helps Reginald, 17, post-surgery.


To ensure that the most appropriate patients are being identified, Mediclinic receives the lists compiled by the partnering public health facility, in this case, Groote Schuur Hospital, where patients are selected from their respective waiting lists.

Patients are admitted to the Mediclinic facility on the morning of the surgery and undergo the relevant procedure under the care of the Mediclinic team. Mediclinic will continue to seek out opportunities to interact and support the public healthcare structure within South Africa, developing workable solutions for the challenges faced within the industry.

Published in Business