Man­dela’s liv­ing legacy for chil­dren con­tin­ues

Vuk'uzenzele - - Yoguetnhefroaclus - Gabi Khu­malo

There’s a rea­son why South Africa’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela was af­fec­tion­ately re­ferred to as the “fa­ther of the na­tion”.

He was called such not only for his fa­therly role he played dur­ing his lead­er­ship of South Africa, but also for the love and sup­port he has showed to chil­dren around the world.

Man­dela’s love for chil­dren and the love that chil­dren showed to him is well doc­u­mented. Be it shar­ing his birth­day cake with them, or rais­ing funds for pro­grammes cre­at­ing ben­e­fi­cial en­vi­ron­ments for the wel­fare of chil­dren, Man­dela was at the fore­front of these ini­tia­tives.

It was this love for chil­dren that pressed Madiba to want to leave a liv­ing legacy for them, even when he’s gone. The Nel­son Man­dela Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal (NMCH), which opened its doors for its first pa­tients in 2017, is a tes­ti­mony of his love and care for chil­dren.

NMCH a brain­child of the Nel­son Man­dela Trust

Uni­ver­sity’s Med­i­cal School and is close to other med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in Park­town, Jo­han­nes­burg. The state-of-the-art hos­pi­tal of­fi­cially opened its doors in June 2017, when it took its first re­ferred pa­tients.

As the coun­try com­mem­o­rates the Nel­son Man­dela Cen­te­nary this year, re­cently sat down with hos­pi­tal CEO Dr Man­disa Ma­hol­wana to check on ac­tiv­i­ties within the hos­pi­tal, as well as the im­pact on the lives of chil­dren.

Dr Ma­hol­wana joined the hos­pi­tal on 1 July 2017, fol­low­ing an ap­point­ment of ex­ec­u­tive lead­er­ship in the first quar­ter of the year.

She said that the role is to pro­vide su­per spe­cialised ser­vices for the chil­dren of the coun­try and the re­gion.

“We are look­ing at spe­cialised pro­ce­dures like pae­di­atric spinal surgery, pae­di­atric neu­ro­surgery, pae­di­atric car­di­ol­ogy, which looks at, for ex­am­ple, con­gen­i­tal heart con­di­tions for chil­dren from be­fore they the dis­ease process, or if they need sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion, those chil­dren can be op­er­ated on,” she said.

Ma­hol­wana said the hos­pi­tal would be opened in phases be­fore it be­comes fully op­er­a­tional. Phase one, which was im­ple­mented last year in­cluded the open­ing of Anaes­the­si­ol­ogy Depart­ment to ad­min­is­ter anaes­the­sia, along­side with the ra­di­ol­ogy unit, phar­macy and a day ward.

Phase one

The first phase was easy to im­ple­ment, and within a month af­ter the hos­pi­tal’s open­ing,

Phase two

Dur­ing the sec­ond phase, the hos­pi­tal pro­vided nephrol­ogy ser­vices, which in­cludes dial­y­sis for chil­dren, car­di­ol­ogy ser­vices which looks at spe­cialised di­ag­nos­tic ar­eas like elec­tro­car­dio­gram (ECG) pro­ce­dures, echocar­dio­g­ra­phy pro­ce­dure, and car­diopul­monary ex­er­cise test­ing pro­ce­dure, which is the first in the coun­try for chil­dren.

This phase also in­cluded the open­ing of a Pae­di­atric In­ten­sive Care Unit (ICU) com­plex, look­ing at pae­di­atric ICU and neona­tal ICU. The ICU com­plex, which was of­fi­cially opened by the Gaut­eng Health Depart­ment on 28 Fe­bru­ary 2018 is now fully op­er­a­tional.

Phase three

The next phase for the hos­pi­tal will be the open­ing of sur­gi­cal ser­vices to be fol­lowed by the last phase, the open­ing of pae­di­atric on­col­ogy unit.

In prepar­ing for sur­gi­cal ser­vices, Dr Ma­hol­wana said the hos­pi­tal has started the re­cruit­ment and com­mis­sion­ing for neu­ro­sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures, or­thopaedic, gen­eral pae­di­atric surgery ser­vices and car­dio­tho­racic surgery pro­ce­dures.

“We are tak­ing a stag­gered ap­proach so that once we set up one ser­vice, we go to the next ser­vice. We re­cruit, we talk to all the aca­demic heads so that as a team, we de­cide how we are go­ing to of­fer the ser­vice and how we ro­tate peo­ple to the hos­pi­tal,” she ex­plained.

Cur­rently, the hos­pi­tal has 200 beds and over 180 staff mem­bers, in­clud­ing nurses, doc­tors and ad­min­is­tra­tion.

When it is fully op­er­a­tional, it is en­vis­aged that it will em­ploy ap­prox­i­mately 150 doc­tors and 451 pae­di­atric nurs­ing pro­fes­sion­als, as well as al­lied ser­vices.

The hos­pi­tal is cur­rently work­ing with a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional chil­dren’s hos­pi­tals like Toronto's Sick Kids Hos­pi­tal in Canada and Great Or­mond Street Hos­pi­tal in Lon­don, where they share ex­pe­ri­ences and best prac­tices.

Dr Ma­hol­wana said the hos­pi­tal is deter­mined to con­tinue Nel­son Man­dela’s legacy by work­ing hard and en­sure­ing chil­dren who come to NMCH feel his spirit, live like chil­dren, and are treated like chil­dren.

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