Top honours for Bay ICU doctor

Mkhululi Ndamase

DEDICATION, passion and hard work are the core values of a Nelson Mandela Bay doctor who has been internationally recognised for her work as a physician.
Dr Debbie Baker, second-in-charge of the Critical Care Unit at Livingstone Hospital, has been made a Fellow by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London in July for her contribution to the medical field.
This is the highest accolade a doctor can achieve.
She was nominated by fellow doctor, Dr Ricky Behari, with whom she has been working since 1995.
It is her specialist work in critical care that has earned her this recognition.
“Dr Behari, who is a Fellow of the College and one of the specialists serving on the RCP committee, proposed me for the fellowship,” said Baker.
“After being proposed I had to forward my CV to the RCP. My proposal was then reviewed by a committee of peers (censors) after which I was accepted as a Fellow. ”
The censors are a number of specialists who belong to the RCP and are highly regarded by their peers in their different specialities.
“The specialists who serve on the censor committee are physicians for Britain’s royal family.
“There are many doctors from all over the world who were nominated, but I was the only one from South Africa.
“Receiving the degree means I can work anywhere in the world,” said Baker.
 Members of the RCP are highly regarded for their opinion on health issues.
“One of the recently-appointed fellows was the advisor on the effects of the radiation after the tsunami in Japan,” said Baker.
The 43-year-old former Alexander Road High School pupil qualified as a doctor in 1992 from the University of Stellenbosch .
The following year Baker started as an intern at Livingstone Hospital. Two years later she started in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the hospital.
In 1999 she helped to raise money for Livingstone’s first portable ventilator.
“I asked the medical fraternity for donations and we managed to raise R40000,” she said.
Committees she has served on include the Medical Ethics Committee and National Committee of the South African Medical Association. She helped co-ordinate the national critical care refresher course and was chairwoman of the Nelson Mandela Bay Critical Care Unit. As second-in-charge clinical officer at Livingstone Hospital she helps run a 12-bed closed adult ICU, and a four-bed High Care Unit.
“At ICU you do lose some patients because they have been through so much. The most challenging patients are motor vehicle accident patients because they usually have spinal injuries,” said Baker.
“As a doctor I always try to do all I can to save a life – no one wants to have a patient die.”
Baker said it was important to have the families involved from the get-go and to be open and honest about a patient’s condition.
“Families are usually appreciative of that.
” I feel incredibly honoured to have been awarded this degree and I am very grateful to my colleagues, especially Dr Behari and Dr van der Merwe ,and my family who have supported me. God has given me a great blessing,” said Baker.
Dr Behari added Dr Baker is the backbone of the ICU unit at the hospital and it is because of her hard work and dedication the RCP recognised her.
“She is an absolute star, hard working, bright and intelligent and most deserving of the fellowship,” said Dr Behari.

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