Groote Schuur opens new diabetes centre

The new diabetes centre at Groote Schuur Hospital.

Groote Schuur Hospital officially opened its new, state-of-the-art diabetes centre the day after World Diabetes Day last week.

Premier Alan Winde; Health MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo; the head of health in the province, Dr Keith Cloete; hospital managers and sponsors attended the opening on Monday November 15

Premier Winde, a Type 2 diabetic himself, said that while the pandemic had had a “significant impact” on the province’s ability to render primary health-care services to diabetics and others with chronic illnesses, it was necessary to get health-care “back on track as we recover and move forward”.

Diabetics’ vulnerability to infectious diseases had become very apparent during the pandemic, said Professor Joel Dave, the head of Groote Schuur’s endocrinology department. In the province, 43% of Covid-19 patients requiring admission to hospital and 23% of all Covid-19 deaths had been diabetics, he said.

The new centre has diabetes clinics that focus on complicated diabetes, such as Type 1 diabetes and diabetes in pregnancy. And a diabetes foot clinic will have multi-disciplinary team including a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, a vascular surgeon and a plastic surgeon.

Patients will be encouraged to attend group sessions and one-on-one education sessions with trained diabetes educators.

A conference room will be used to run courses for nurses and doctors from both the public and private sectors.

The expertise and technology at the centre will be used to train the next generation of endocrinologists and physicians for South Africa and Africa and to conduct outreach clinics and training. And the data the centre generates will aid research to improve the management of patients with diabetes.

Dr Mbombo said early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes could prevent complications. “That is why I am so encouraged by the establishment of the diabetes centre,” she said.

A health-care professional should be consulted by anyone experiencing diabetes symptoms: increased hunger and fatigue; increased thirst and urination; a dry mouth and itchy skin; blurred or decreased vision; slow-healing wounds; numbness and tingling in hands or feet; and unexplained changes in weight, including weight gains or losses.

Premier Winde urged diabetics to prioritise their health. “You can do so by staying on top of your treatment, as prescribed by your physician, exercising, eating healthily, monitoring your blood sugar and staying hydrated,” he said.

Podiatrist Sean Pincus examines Premier Alan Winde in the new Diabetes Clinic.