Here’s a quick overview of the places I’ve been going to over the past few weeks
St. Helen Josephs
During Apartheid years St. Helen Josephs Hospital could only be used by white, but now it is a the public hospitals in Joburg. Here, I shadowed a neurologist. An average day consisted on consulting followed by teaching medical students. In two hours, we consulted five patients. Two of the patients were given generic medication and the doctor assumed their symptoms were simply caused by anxiety. The other patient was given a higher dose of medication as her tremors increased. It seemed that most of the patients were simply given medication and told to come back in X amount of months. The beds, resources, staff, medication, and time are limited at this hospital.
LenMed Clinic: Private Hospital
After coming from the public hospitals, LenMed Clinic was a pleasant change. I walked in and for a second I forgot I was in a hospital in South Africa. This is similar to any private hospital in the United States. There is an adequate number of staff and care is easily accessible. I innocently walked into Theatre 4 not knowing what horrors
awaited…just kidding. But honestly, orthopedic surgery is not for the weak stomached individual. The surgeons are simply fearless. The stick their instruments, fingers even their whole hand into any sized incision. Out of five surgeries, one spared the goriness: an endoscopic knee surgery to remove fiber tissue. The surgeons move with such confidence, dexterity, and force that it is truly amazing. Because they don’t have the most recent technology, they rely mostly on learned and practiced skill.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
South Africa’s open door public health policy has its ups and downs. Although everyone receives some type of health care, the quality sometimes degrades because the volume continues to become larger and larger. People from neighboring countries, such as Mozambique, travel for days just to come to Baragwanath (Bara). In addition to being one of the best public hospitals, years ago Bara also had a reputation of being a top research facility. The pathology there is unreal. You find cases here that you only read about in textbooks. With the pathology at hand there’s no doubt useful information was constantly being gleaned from such cases.
People around the world come to train at Baragwanath, especially in
the trauma unit. Here you’ll find some of the best surgeons simply because the trauma unit receives so many cases.
Although the doctors are still here, the problem (in addition to the dire financial circumstances) is the lack of employees in the laboratories and research facilities. Most have left the country. It’s sad to see despite the hard efforts of the talented doctors, the patients still suffer and not everyone’s needs are met.
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