Eye Care Centre launched at Vredendal Hospital
“The gift of sight is often undervalued until it becomes a serious burden to see,” says Sr Elizma Anthonissen, ophthalmic nurse specialist and the newly opened Eye Care Centre at Vredendal Hospital. The centre brings much needed relief to patients who previously had to wait for years before they could get an appointment at the various tertiary institutions for eye care services.
Since the centre became operational various conditions have been identified amongst patients, with cataracts being the most common disease. Other conditions documented include glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, refractive errors and childhood blindness Anthonissen who runs the centre says that the difference eye care services make to a patients’ quality of life is remarkable. Anthonissen visits clinics in the Matzikama and Cederberg Sub-Districts on a regular basis for consultations with referred eye care patients. “The need for this service is overwhelming and I could not have predicted that clinic visits will be fully booked months in advance.”
The surgical theatre had its first cataract surgeries in July 2016 when six patients were treated. Dr Junet van der Merwe performed the surgery and the test run provided much needed information to create a standard operating procedure for future cataract surgeries.
The Eye care service will continue at both primary health care and facility level and the centre staff hope to shorten the waiting list at tertiary institutions by treating patients from the Matzikama and Cederberg Sub-Districts locally.
Construction of the new Eye Care Centre was completed in February 2016 and operations commenced in March 2016. The clinic is staffed by a trained Ophthalmic Nurse Specialist, and since July 2016 Dr Junet van der Merwe, an ophthalmologist in the private sector visits the centre once a month for specialised consultations, surgeries and surgical follow-ups. From March to August 2016 the centre has already had 1095 consultations of which 869 are new patients seen and 226 are follow-ups.
The new Eye Care Centre at Vredendal Hospital was officially opened by Dr Keith Cloete, Deputy Director General: Chief of Operations, Western Cape Government Health, on Friday, 28 October 2016. The centre’s need was identified in 2013 when it was found that patients sometimes have to wait for years before they get an appointment at the various tertiary institutions for eye care services.
In 2014 The Health Foundation, established a connection between Vredendal Hospital and Samsung, who donated some of the Eye Care Centre’s most valuable assets. In 2015, The Embassy of Japan made the Eye care surgical theatre a reality by funding equipment necessary for cataract surgery. Sponsors from the local business community in Vredendal also raised funds for essential day-to-day equipment in an effort to help bring relief from the devastating effects of preventable blindness in the community.