Eastern Cape specialist units stand idle

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Specialist units in the Eastern Cape are standing idle because hospitals lack the staff to operate the high-tech equipment, reports the Daily Despatch.

A frustrated and highly trained heart doctor is sitting in Mthatha’s Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital surrounded by high-tech specialist state-of-the-art equipment worth R28m – but without anyone to help operate it, says a Daily Dispatch report. Cardiologist Dr Khulile Moeketsi said: “I am very frustrated. Currently I’m doing minimally invasive cardiology and I still have to refer some patients to Durban. I cannot do coronary angiograms because the department has not hired the staff.” “I am trained to be an invasive cardiologist but I am not doing it,” Moeketsi said.

The report says it has also been discovered that state cardiac patients in the Eastern Cape can only be treated in Port Elizabeth, although there are two tertiary hospitals on the eastern side of the Eastern Cape capable of doing the work.

The Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital has a fully kitted out cardiology unit, which is not in operation. It also has specialised catheter laboratory equipment, used to visualise the arteries and chambers of the heart and treat any abnormalities discovered in patients, which stands idle. The hospital’s CEO Nomalanga Makwedini said: “The unit has not officially opened. He (Moeketsi) is doing minor procedures that do not need a lot of invasion. We need to appoint staff to work there and complete his team. For heart-related matters, we need ICU-trained staff”. She said patients were being referred to Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in KwaZulu Natal.

The report says Frere Hospital in East London has two “sessional” cardiologists who assess patients but they too must send patients to Port Elizabeth. Frere CEO Dr Rolene Wagner said the cardiologists were consultants to the hospital and undertook cardiology clinics.

“We do not have a cardiology unit like Port Elizabeth. We manage patients at our internal medicines department, the patients are assessed and it is determined what kind of intervention is needed,” she said. “We still have to send patients to Port Elizabeth for procedures,” she said. “The province prioritised Mthatha for a cath lab and we will get ours in the next few years.

Daily Dispatch report

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