Dora doctors go extra mile

PROUD ACHIEVEMENT: At the opening of the high-care burns unit at Dora Nginza Hospital yesterday are, from left, Dr Aydin Vehbi, Dr Litha Matiwane, Lurlene Battrick of Mölnlycke Health Care and Dr Bukelawa Mbulawa-Hans Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
PROUD ACHIEVEMENT: At the opening of the high-care burns unit at Dora Nginza Hospital yesterday are, from left, Dr Aydin Vehbi, Dr Litha Matiwane, Lurlene Battrick of Mölnlycke Health Care and Dr Bukelawa Mbulawa-Hans
Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Dedicated pair’s efforts lead to new high-care burns unit

While they watched their patients dying as they had to compete for beds in the only state intensive-care unit in the western part of the province, two Dora Nginza Hospital doctors decided it was time they made a plan.

Over the past 18 months doctors Aydin Vehbi and Sameer Abbas have worked hard, begging and pleading with medical companies for equipment.

Yesterday they eventually revealed the hospital’s new sixbed, high-care burns unit – where burn victims can receive ventilation if they need it.

The burns unit now has a total of 48 beds, with 30 in the adult wards and 12 in the paediatric ward.

In addition, Vehbi said, they had taken six beds from the paediatric ward to create the new high-care unit.

He said one of the biggest challenges they had faced prior to the new unit was having to share an intensive-care unit with other patients in need.

The ICU is providing services to a population of roughly 1.8 million people.

“We competed with all the surgical and medical units for a bed there. The criteria for a burns victim to be admitted to the ICU were also very strict. They would only take patients with burns over 40% or less of their bodies.

“We were pulling through patients with 50-55% burns. All they really needed was a couple of days on a ventilator for their lungs to recover.”

He said they first tried to get a high-care unit “the official way”.

“Then we said, ‘Let us do it ourselves’.

“It took about 18 to 19 months of haggling and begging with pharmaceutical and medical companies, but we got it right.”

He said they approached the companies that manufacture the dressings used in the unit.

“The dressings are very expensive. We wanted a sustainable plan. They have all come on board for a three-year period.”

He said they would now move on to recruit ICU-trained staff.

“We have the nurses. We are just waiting for them to be appointed.”

They hoped to start admitting patients in June next year.

Eastern Cape Department of Health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said they were very happy with the improvements the doctors had made to the burns unit.

“We will continue investing [in] and improving our medical equipment,” he said.

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