Specialist Paediatric Cardiology Service comes to George Hospital
Doctor John Lawrenson, Head of Paediatric Cardiology at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, and his team visited George Hospital on 8 August 2014 to host a cardiology outreach clinic. The clinic was aimed at providing children living in Eden and Central Karoo born with heart abnormalities with local access to highly specialised cardiology services through an agreement between George Hospital and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. It was a busy but rewarding day for both doctors and nurses. Dr Lawrenson and his team saw 49 patients from the Eden District. This was the fourth outreach of its kind at George Hospital. Dr Rik de Decker from Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital initiated the first paediatric cardiology outreach programme to George Hospital in November 2012.
Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, commented: "The specialist outreaches from Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital demonstrates our efforts to reach to communities and bring health services closer to you. We realise the tyranny of distance and how difficult it is to be separated from the specialist hospitals in the city. Other outreaches are also to our neighbouring province, Frere Hospital and Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in the Eastern Cape, as well as outreaches to Worcester Hospital."
The major benefit of these outreach clinics is that it saves sick children and their parents having to make the arduous journey to Cape Town. Some would have to repeat this journey every 3 to 6 months. For a mother to take her child to Cape Town for a Monday cardiology clinic, would mean that they will have to travel to their nearest rural hospital on Sunday evening in order to get to George Hospital to catch the connecting transport to Cape Town at about 02:00. They would have typically only returned the Monday night about midnight, after spending more than 24 hours on transport and at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. This can be really difficult for parents and their families, who already have many odds stacked against them.
Through the cardiology outreach service, Western Cape Government Health will help families by making it significantly easier for their children to reach tertiary level cardiology services by offering a service closer to home. Due to improved services, these children are diagnosed early in life and treated with medication and (occasionally) heart surgery at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital they have a chance at a normal life. During these clinics teaching also takes place. Local Paediatricians are equipped with additional skills to help look after these children. Dr Lawrenson said: “The paediatric team in George is a ‘jewel’ to be treasured and to serve as the model for the rest of the country as to just how good a regional hospital service can be.”