Relief for orthopaedic patients

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. . . as SA surgeon operates at Queen Mamohato

Rethabile Pitso

THE Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) invited an orthopaedic surgeon from the University of Cape Town to conduct knee and hip replacements over the past weekend to assist local patients, many of whom had either endured very long waiting periods or been forced to go to Bloemfontein in neighbouring South Africa to seek treatment.

According to QMMH Public Relations Officer, Limpho Seeiso, Marc Nortje was invited by the hospital to conduct the operations as the hospital did not have the requisite skills to perform the surgeries. The invitation was part of the hospital’s decision to minimise the number of patients referred to South Africa for such procedures.

Dr Seeiso said Dr Nortje operated on seven of the eight patients who were booked for the procedures, to adjust their knee and hip joints, while the eighth operation was rescheduled to a later date.

“The patients underwent the operations as part of our contractual obligation to perform hip and knee surgeries,” Dr Seeiso said.

“However, due to local skill limitations, we had been sending our patients to Bloemfontein for such procedures. You will find that because the Bloemfontein Public Hospitals service the entire Free State and Northern Cape provinces as well as Lesotho, there is a long waiting list of patients seeking this particular surgical intervention.”

Dr Seeiso said the initiative was in line with QMMH’s intention to continue working with international specialists for the benefit of local doctors and patients. She added that the main challenge facing the local health delivery system was maintaining up-to-date skill levels since Lesotho does not have the Continued Professional Development (CPD) programme for registered doctors as is the case in other countries. CPD is the process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience gained both formally and informally beyond the initial training. CPD is a requirement in other countries and exposes doctors to the latest and newest methods of treatment.

“When patients are referred to hospitals outside of the country, local doctors and medical practitioners are denied the opportunity to work with a specialist who can share his or her knowledge and skills,” she said.

“When we invite specialists over, it is advantageous for local staff who are afforded a chance to participate in the treatment.

“In this way, it is also cost effective to both the patients and the hospital as the costs of waiting and other costs associated with hospital admissions are dramatically reduced. The patient’s social support system is also enhanced as family and friends can easily visit their patients.”

QMMH Medical Officer in the orthopaedic department, Daniel Mukalamusi, who worked closely with the visiting specialist, welcomed the move to invite specialists to the hospital adding that Dr Nortje’s visit was not the first time a specialist had been brought in to assist in the orthopaedic department.

“In 2012 we had a voluntary team which treated about 29 patients and we are expecting that more specialists will come to assist because we do not have the requisite skills to perform these major surgeries,” Dr Mukalamusi said.

“In my department, we are mostly general orthopaedics but for these kinds of procedures, doctors like Nortje are welcome to assist us in helping our patients and not sending them to other places at great expense.”

Dr Mukalamusi said Dr Nortje took less than two hours to operate on each patient, a procedure which would normally take someone without his expertise a whole morning.

“Each operation took between one and a half hours to two hours due to a combination of his skills and the expert way the orthopaedic team that was working with him displayed,” he said.

“We have all been impressed by the way we have managed to work with one another, from the pain relief management to the group that was administering the anaesthetic.”

He also expressed happiness at the success of the operations which have resulted in the treated patients regaining their ability to walk unimpeded.

When Lesotho Times visited the patients on Tuesday, the patients expressed heartfelt gratitude at the treatment QMMH had given them, saying the corrective operations had given them a new lease of life.

Mabahlakoana Mapetla (60) from Lower Thamae in Maseru received hip treatment which restored ability her ability to walk normally.

“I am happy for all of us who have received treatment because we will no longer be mocked by society because of the disability we used to have,” Ms Mapetla said.

“We are thankful to government for supporting this hospital with the doctors and the state of the art equipment that is being utilised here. The doctors and nurses have been looking after us well.

“We will continue with our treatment and to practise good eating habits in order to abide by the advice the doctors have given us to maintain good health.”

 

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