Lack of staff frustrates cardiologist

A frustrated and highly trained heart doctor is sitting in Mthatha’s Nelson Mandela Academic hospital surrounded by high-tech specialist state-of-the-art equipment worth R28-million – but without anyone to help operate it.

Cardiologist Dr Khulile Moeketsi said: “I am very frustrated. Currently I’m doing minimally invasive cardiology and I still have to refer some patients to Durban.

“I cannot do coronary angiograms because the department has not hired the staff.

“I am trained to be an invasive cardiologist but I am not doing it,” Moeketsi said.

Saturday Dispatch has also discovered that state cardiac patients in the Eastern Cape can only be treated in Port Elizabeth, although there are two tertiary hospitals on the eastern side of the Eastern Cape capable of doing the work.

The Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital has a fully kitted out cardiology unit, which is not in operation.

It also has specialised cath lab equipment, used to visualise the arteries and chambers of the  heart  and treat any abnormalities discovered in patients, which stands idle.

The hospital’s CEO Nomalanga  Makwedini  this week referred the Saturday Dispatch to Moeketsi for an update on the unit’s progress.

Makwedini said however: “The unit has not officially opened. He [the cardiologist] is doing minor procedures that do not need a lot of invasion. We need to appoint staff to work there and complete his team. For heart-related matters, we need ICU-trained staff”.

She said patients were being referred to Nkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in KwaZulu Natal.

Frere Hospital in East London has two “sessional” cardiologists who assess patients but they too must send patients to Port Elizabeth.

Frere CEO Dr Rolene Wagner said the cardiologists were consultants to the hospital and undertook cardiology clinics.

“We do not have a cardiology unit like Port Elizabeth. We manage patients at our internal medicines department, the patients are assessed and it is determined what kind of intervention is needed,” she said.

“We still have to send patients to Port Elizabeth for procedures,” she said.

“The province prioritised Mthatha for a cath lab and we will get ours in the next few years.

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