Durbanville: Da Vinci robotic surgery is being introduced as part of the ongoing relationship between Mediclinic and the Western Cape Department of Health. During the next few weeks, Mediclinic Durbanville, together with urologist Dr Gawie Bruwer, will be providing cutting edge prostate surgery to ten patients currently on Tygerberg Hospital’s urology waiting list. The life-saving prostatectomy surgeries are the latest in a sequence of collaborations between Mediclinic and a number of provincial health departments.

The pro-bono procedures reduce the pressure on public surgical waiting lists at local and regional public hospital facilities. These procedures will also help broaden access to quality healthcare for many South Africans as part of a Private Public Initiative (PPI). Mediclinic’s participation is based on shared capacity and expertise between the private and public healthcare sectors, and is aimed at lightening the burden of long public surgery waiting lists.

The unique aspect of the partnership at Mediclinic Durbanville is that it is the first time that the renowned da Vinci robot is being utilised as part of the collaborative surgery. Introduced to Mediclinic Durbanville several years ago, this robotic surgery has already provided some remarkable benefits to patient recovery. “The precision of the da Vinci aids the thorough removal of cancerous tissue as well as offering the ability to perform nerve sparing surgery, which enables a faster return of erectile function as well as a better chance for urinary continence. I firmly believe that this technology is giving patients the option of improved clinical outcomes that may not be possible with open surgery,” said Dr Bruwer.

The Mediclinic surgical facilities, access to the da Vinci robot, nursing staff and expertise from Mediclinic associated doctors, are provided free of charge in a collaboration with the local public-sector hospital. Anaesthesiologist Dr Gerry Brynard will also be assisting with the procedure on a pro-bono basis as a result of his specialised experienced regarding robotic anaesthesiology. The most recent series of collaborations have been carried out across the Western Cape, Free State and Limpopo provinces with a number of other provinces still being discussed. Operations included cataract, urology and tympanoplasty (eardrum repair) procedures.

“I wish to thank Mediclinic for the extension of the collaborative surgeries programme to the patients of Tygerberg Hospital. The partnership is also about strengthening our working relationship between private and public hospitals and working together to change the lives of our people. We are taking hands with our partners in the private sector in seeking a better health future for all the people of the Western Cape, and South Africa,” says Western Cape MEC for Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo. “The collaboration with Mediclinic allows us to reap the benefits of access to the additional capacity available in Mediclinic surgical facilities and the talent of the surgeons practicing in their hospitals, while also being able to alleviate the number of urology patients on the public waiting list,” said Dr Mbombo.

Another key aspect to the relationship between Mediclinic and Tygerberg Hospital will be the training element. A team of theatre staff including a scrub nurse, anaesthetist and fellow urology registrars will be included either in the theatre or as part of a live broadcast to the doctors. “With no current access to the da Vinci in public hospitals, this will provide a valuable teaching opportunity across the private and public platforms,” says Dr Dimitri Erasmus CEO: Tygerberg Hospital. “Both registrars from our Tygerberg facility as well as those students training at Mediclinic Durbanville under the mentorship of Dr Rust Theron, who will have access to view and learn about these procedures,” Erasmus concluded.

Koert Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer of Mediclinic Southern Africa, concurs that these collaborations are about more than alleviating long public sector waiting lists; “Our aim is to touch lives and – in this particular case – save lives together. We acknowledge the severe shortage of doctors and nurses in our country and we understand how this can hamper the public sector’s ability to deliver care, but by working together in Public Private Initiatives we have the opportunity to reach beyond our traditional patient base and assist these patients.”

“Mediclinic Durbanville is eager to translate this partnership into improved health outcomes for members of our community. By providing access to the da Vinci machine we are not only relieving the waiting list but also using technology to benefit the patients’ recovery process,” stated Christine Taylor, the Hospital General Manager of Mediclinic Durbanville.

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