Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg drives public-private partnership in KZN

Posted on 13 December 2018

Mediclinic’s long-standing national partnership with local government reached new heights in December 2018, as seven state patients in KwaZulu-Natal benefited from pro bono cataract surgery.

Mediclinic’s ongoing partnership with national and local government continues to expand upcountry. This time, doctors and staff at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg opened their doors to seven elderly patients from Northdale Hospital, who had been waiting for cataract surgery.

The aim of this public-private partnership is to assist in reducing the waiting lists for key surgeries. To date, over 150 surgeries have taken place in the Western Cape, Limpopo and Free State provinces – and these surgeries mark the first time that Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg has partnered with local government.

It won’t be the last, promises Tabitha Lolliot, Hospital General Manager: Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg. “We are so excited to join this collaboration,” she says. “We have heard so many stories about how this partnership has changed lives over the last two years, and we are now able to contribute meaningfully to members of our own community.”

A further 30 cataract surgeries are scheduled for early 2019 as an extension of the collaboration between Mediclinic and local government in KwaZulu-Natal.

Patients are selected by doctors from the relevant public sector hospital, to ensure the most appropriate patients are identified and assisted. Mediclinic receives patient lists compiled by the partnering public health facility, where individuals are selected from their respective waiting lists. The doctor in private practice then assesses those patients ahead of the day of surgery, and a follow-up visit with an ophthalmologist is scheduled for after surgery is complete.

Cataract surgery may be a minor procedure, but it can be life-changing, says Dr Nick Davey, an ophthalmologist associated with Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg, who performed the surgeries. “The majority of people will develop cataracts in their lifetime, as they grow into old age,” he says. “What happens is, the eye’s natural lens becomes clouded, and this causes blurry and dim vision. Removing and replacing the lens can change these patients’ life – they can go back to doing what they love.”

“I didn’t even know I had a cataract,” says Mrs Rampersand, 74, a patient from Pietermaritzburg. “I wear glasses, but over time it just got harder and harder to see. I went to the clinic and they put me on the waiting list. Then Mediclinic called my daughter, and said, let’s bring her in. Fixing my eyes – it’s going to make a big difference in my life.”

Dr Neeran Narainswamy from the public hospital assisted with patient follow-ups, and Right to Sight, a registered PBO, contributed to the collaboration by sponsoring the lenses for the procedures. The trust aims to enable financially disadvantaged patients – who are either partially sighted or blind due to untreated cataracts – to access sight-saving surgery.

Greg van Wyk, Chief Human Resources Officer: Mediclinic Southern Africa, was on hand to greet the patients on the day. “It is so exciting to see what is happening in this region,” he says. “I grew up in Pietermaritzburg; I went to school here. So I am proud to be part of an organisation that is giving back to this community. We have seen through some of our previous cataract surgeries, how significant these interventions can be. From regaining independence to returning to work and earning a living – these surgeries are making a tangible difference to the individuals and their families.”

The consulting specialists are key to this ongoing partnership, he says. “These surgeons and anaesthetists have been invaluable in making these public-private collaborations a success. We are really encouraged by how many of the provinces are opening up to us about their needs. We have covered cataract, ENT, urology and other procedures, depending on the needs of that province. Mediclinic is actively working with a number of additional regions to identify their needs – and understand where Mediclinic has the capacity to assist.”

Published in Business