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In March 2021, Mediclinic Newcastle transformed the local medical sector after welcoming neurosurgeon, Dr Thamsanqa Buthelezi to its team. The introduction of neurosurgery ushered in a new medical discipline previously unavailable, giving the community local access to otherwise city-based medical options.
Now a good few months later, catching up with the doctor—he chats to us, giving a snapshot of the past few months. “It has been a great ride and the way the community has treated me has been wonderful.” He adds, the welcoming atmosphere stems mainly from the fact that there is now a neurosurgeon in the vicinity, which sees patients not having to travel far distances for treatment.
Having worked at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital – SMU and Steve Biko Academic Hospital (UP), both in Gauteng, and Livingstone Tertiary Hospital in the Eastern Cape—Dr Buthelezi points out that one of the most pleasant surprises he found at Mediclinic Newcastle were the steps the medical facility had taken to prepare for having a neurosurgeon within the area.
“When I heard about Mediclinic Newcastle, I came through and met with the hospital’s General Manager, Japie Greyling, and he explained how the facility did not have a neurosurgeon.” However, he stresses that the hospital already had most of the tools; one was an advanced microscope required by neurosurgeons. “This shows they wanted to grow and were ready to work with a neurosurgeon, which I found intriguing.”
He further commended Mediclinic Newcastle for always remaining proactive. “When certain tools are needed and the hospital doesn’t have them, Mediclinic Newcastle will take the necessary steps to hire those tools if need be.” Again, showcasing the private hospital’s dedication to its patients and community.
The doctor explains that goals were set in place for the upcoming 12 months upon joining the team. “The main goal has been achieved – getting people aware there is a neurosurgeon here. We are now seeing patients from Dundee, Piet Retief, and even as far as Pongola,” declares Dr Buthelezi.
However, with GPs now referring patients to him, the doctor highlights that further goals now need to be established in order to see Mediclinic Newcastle become more than a private hospital, transforming into a medical hub. Thus, being comparable to facilities such as the Netcare Milpark Hospital based in Johannesburg. “I want us to be really comprehensive. We are continuing the procurement of all the tools we need to assist in all neurosurgical procedures. We have the necessary skills and with time, I want to ensure no person has to be transferred to out-of-town facilities as we acquire more specialists and tools.”
While looking at growth within the local medical facility, Dr Buthelezi reflects on some of the advancements that his discipline has brought to the community. He explains that with neurosurgery covering a broad spectrum of issues and not being common, his presence at Mediclinic Newcastle has seen him perform spinal procedures requiring neuromonitoring to ensure the patients suffered no adverse complications. Additionally, he has also successfully removed a tumour from a patient’s brain, both of these operations being a first for the Newcastle medical sector.
Moreover, he highlights that Newcastillians can be treated for trauma without being transferred to hospitals outside Newcastle’s borders—explaining that the benefit of this reduces the possibility of a patient potentially suffering long-term implications if they first need to be transported elsewhere.
Dr Buthelezi emphasises that trauma cases requiring neurosurgery need to be done immediately to guarantee the individual recovers quicker and has the opportunity to resume their lives with little to no side effects. In light of this, the doctor says the potential for growth within his discipline is exponential in Newcastle.
This includes possibly working with the government health sector, seeing them grow their neurology team, and being able to serve people who would otherwise rely on government facilities outside of town, such as Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital.
At the moment, he points out, “There are people who die while waiting to be admitted into government hospitals.” But by helping the local public health sector acquire neurosurgeons, the waiting period will be cut, and more lives will be saved.
As an indispensable component of the Mediclinic Newcastle team, Dr Buthelezi concludes with, “I envision growth within Mediclinic Newcastle and it is in progress.”
What are your thoughts on Dr Buthelezi’s progression and aspirations for the local medical sector?
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This post and content is sponsored and provided by Mediclinic Newcastle