Doctor’s dedication sees third generation baby delivered at Helderberg Hospital
Dr Werner Viljoen, the Medical Manager at Helderberg Hospital, was called into the maternity room one day to help a patient deliver a baby. He remembers it very well as it was a rather difficult birth.
A lady who was accompanying the patient recognised and approached Dr Viljoen. She started by thanking him for coming to assist with the delivery of her daughter’s baby. She then told him that it was a huge privilege to her because she was also assisted by the very same Dr Viljoen when she gave birth to her daughter many years ago, who is now giving birth to her grandchild. Dr Viljoen felt very proud and was really pleased to receive the compliment. “I thought to myself, I have been here for far too long”, he says jokingly. The delivery was a success and the baby was fine.
Dr Werner Viljoen is the longest serving doctor at Helderberg Hospital. He is passionate about women and child health and feels that he has a strong bond with the patients and the community. He started working in Helderberg Hospital in April 1997 and has seen the changes of the hospital and its improvements from the old days.
Dr Viljoen also works with students from Stellenbosch University and says that he holds three jobs. Firstly; he is a doctor, secondly; a teacher, and lastly; a Clinical Manager.
“A doctor teaches patients about their health and how to take medication and to manage their wellbeing,” he explains. “If you don’t teach that to your patients, then all that could amount to nothing”, he adds. As a Clinical Manager, Dr Viljoen understands public health structure in a bigger spectrum. “You have to know where we are heading”. He says that people only see the snapshot of the hospital and its services, but he focuses on the bigger picture and long-term view. He admits that no system is absolutely perfect, but says one has to see above and beyond the current situation, envisage progress and developments, as well as strive for improvement every day.
Helderberg Hospital is currently undergoing a R40 million upgrade to its Emergency Centre, which is planned to be completed in 2020. The area will have bigger and better waiting areas with modern design and technology with the focus in the overnight ward, Kangaroo Unit, as well as post-natal unit.
The hospital constantly operates on average between 105% and 110% bed capacity with approximately 1 750 patients admitted per month. With his experience, Dr Viljoen has ways of dealing with the high volumes of work stress and the chaos that comes with service pressures at the hospital. He believes that the longer one works in a given environment, the more effective they get and things seem to become better.
Dr Viljoen has an opportunity to go elsewhere, even overseas if he wishes, but he chose to stay in this hospital. His main reason for staying is because he wants to be able to teach and be there to care for his patients in the Helderberg community. He recalls many incidents in his career where patients touched his life and changed the way he thinks about and practices medicine. He feels it is very important that people realise that the process of getting better is always a team effort.
He says that if in your career as a doctor, you get to save a single life, you have done an immeasurable and amazing duty, and you have given another chance to human life. “The wonderful thing is that we save lives everyday,” he concludes.