Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Medics on Motorbikes

- Linda Jaquet -

What do you do when you want to urge your bosses to see for themselves the working conditions on the ground and to get to know the faces behind the names on memos? If they are medical professionals, you appeal to what they love doing most apart from caring for other human beings. And that’s what senior doctors in two provincial hospitals in the Great Karoo did.

Dr Earle du Plooy, medical superintendent of BW Hospital and Dr O van Heerden of Laingsburg Hospital invited Professor Craig Househam, the Head of the Western Cape Health Department, a motorbike enthusiast and Dr Joey Cupido, in charge of the Province’s District Health Services and Health Programmes, to join them on a Motorcycle and Marketing Roadshow or “M&M” through the Great Karoo. They were joined by fellow bikers, Dr Niklaas Stempels, a George ophthalmologist and Dr Srinivisan Govender, a family physician working in Kayelitsha.

The objective of Drs du Plooy and van Heerden was to break down negative perceptions of the Karoo, raise awareness of the need to recruit more medical personnel in this part of the province and also to enable staff at hospitals to get direct answers to their questions and concerns.

And so, the M&M Roadshow arrived at Prince Albert’s Hospital on 19 June, somewhat later than planned as Dr du Plooy’s zippy, black Vespa ran out of petrol en route!

Prince Albert was the last stop after three days on the road visiting the hospitals at Laingsburg, Beaufort West, Nelspoort and Murraysburg. Here they met with Henry Basson, Hospital Manager and representatives of the Hospital’s medical and nursing personnel in a discussion also attended by other officials of the Department of Health. According to Basson, they reviewed the challenges faced by small provincial hospitals like Prince Albert’s.

Dr Cupido informed the Friend that the meeting had come up with possible solutions to specific problems related to ophthalmology, orthopaedics and outpatient transport raised by the Hospital’s personnel.

The four “non-Karoo” doctors had not visited Prince Albert before and regretted not having the time to stay longer. Professor Househam roared off in the direction of the N1, while Dr Stempels made his way back to George through Meiringspoort. Dr Govender had sensibly taken a day’s leave and set off to discover the Swartberg Pass and wend his way slowly home.

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