130 years of healthcare

Victoria Hospital opened its doors on June 25, 1888.

Victoria Hospital celebrated 130 years of providing medical services to the community with a gala dinner in association with its groundbreaking palliative care programme.

Speaking at the event, held at Stardust Restaurant in Woodstock on Thursday September 27, CEO Dr Melvin Moodley said Victoria was the second oldest hospital in the Western Cape after Somerset.

At the glittering event, Dr Moodley spoke of some exciting projects under way at Victoria Hospital.

Their paediatric centre provides specialist care to almost 200 000 children in the southern sub-district.

“Apart from a busy paediatric ward our thriving outpatient department offers a wide range of services, including a family orientated infectious diseases clinic and a neuro-behavioural clinic,” said Dr Moodley.

“Recently though, our interest has shifted beyond the hospital, to strengthening paediatric care in the community. We want to start with strengthening the community healthcare system for paediatrics, but our ultimate aim is a collaboration with all community stakeholders including social development, education and, community safety to improve the health and wellness of all our children. Our plan for the next six months is a community outreach aimed at strengthening paediatric healthcare systems, particularly in vulnerable areas such as Masiphumelele, Imizamo Yethu and Capricorn Beach,” said Dr Moodley.

He said Victoria Hospital also has a thriving, cutting edge surgical facility.

Two years ago medical treatment at Victoria Hospital got better when a laparoscopic “stack” television screen and hardware was delivered.

It meant that they could offer more patients minimally invasive, or keyhole, surgery for colonic cancer, appendicitis, hernias and other bowel-related diseases as well as urological procedures and ear nose and throat procedures on children.

“We’ve invested heavily in our surgical department in the last three years, purchasing new theatre beds, anaesthetic machines and a laparoscopic machine. Thanks to a generous sponsor, we are now offering training in gastroscopy (where a camera is inserted into your stomach). Future plans are to expand this service to local hospitals,” said Dr Moodley.

He said Victoria Hospital will be building a new state of the art emergency centre, with construction due to begin shortly.

And plans are under way to start a CT scan service at Victoria Hospital from November.

Dr Moodley said a CT or CAT (computerised axial tomography) scan, is a special X-ray test that produces cross-sectional images of the body using X-rays and a computer.

Dr Moodley said the hospital’s Abundant Life palliative care programme is celebrating its 10th anniversary at Victoria Hospital. It is a prototype for palliative care services in South African hospitals and is on the cusp of being included in the healthcare programmes across the country both in the public and private sector. The Department of Health has already established a palliative care programme at Groote Schuur Hospital and is in the process of establishing the service in several district hospitals.

Dr Clint Cupido, who heads the department of medicine at Victoria Hospital, also heads up the palliative care programme along with a passionate, dedicated team of nurses and volunteers.

Dr Cupido’s father, Gustaf was at death’s door when diagnosed with cancer at the age of 77. “I wanted him to be treated at Victoria Hospital, the place that trains all those doctors that work in private practice. My dad has survived and is an example of Abundant Life,” he said.

Mr Cupido recently spent many hours helping to renovate the house in Wynberg.

Abundant Life house is being used as a facility to train staff to care for those who are dying and to support their families.

At the event, Dr Cupido said if people have cancer they have hospice care. If you have organ failure there was nothing. Since it was founded in 2009, Abundant Life has provided holistic palliative care to over
1 500 patients. “We cannot change the journey to death but we can make it better,” said Dr Cupido.

At the event, charity auctioneer Joey Burke from Kenilworth said he has a link to Victoria Hospital. He had a heart attack shortly after he came to South Africa from Zimbabwe 18 years ago. He was taken to Victoria where, because of their amazing care he is alive to tell the tale and to host the auction.

Funds raised will provide palliative care at other hospitals and raise the profile of Abundant Life and Victoria Hospital.

Movers and shakers were able to bid for auction lots that included skydiving, power boating, a tuna fishing experience, a cooking experience with chef Jade Ryan, jewellery from Afro Gem, a luxury trip to lunch in Franschhoek, golf at Steenberg Estate, artworks and much more.

In May 1887 Dr John Wright began a drive for a cottage hospital in Wynberg. The community rallied and families including the Cloetes and Fitpatricks donated funds. Francis Baker and George Ransome were the architects and a Mr Green was the builder. Dr John Wright died of influenza and his son Dr Harry Claude Wright took over and lead Victoria for 30 years.

The hospital opened its doors on June 25, 1888 with 14 beds and Dr Wright as its doctor. At that time its windows looked over an open plain of fynbos leading to the sea with not another building in sight. Over the years it has treated typhoid and bubonic plague, soldiers from the Boer War and World War II.

The community never tired and raised funds again and again to grow Victoria into a general hospital in 1917 with extensions in 1931 and again in 1961, 1972 and 2013.

For details about Abundant Life, call 021 799 1161, or 083 543 5215.