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“I am a retired nurse from Valkenberg and Lentegeur psychiatric hospitals. I have done my service. I feel that senior citizens play a pivotal role in shaping this country and should not be neglected in this way,” she wrote in her letter.
Ms Safodien, who lost her husband earlier this year and lives with her daughter, told the Plainsman the pain impedes her movement and independence.
“I humbly request that you seriously look into the plight of the elderly, who are being deprived of the much needed surgery, to ensure a better quality of life,” she said.
She said the longer one had to wait for surgery the more of a burden patients were on the state health system, with the need for additional treatment and medication.
“Our physical well-being also determines our mental health, which is important to maintain a sane living environment,” she said.
“The pain can also be debilitating, which is a point I do not want to reach,” she said.
While provincial health departmentspokespersonMonique Johnstone, for the Klipfontein, Mitchell’s Plain and Western
and Southern sub-structures,
empathised with Ms Safodien,
she said decisions were based
on medical guidelines, which helped doctors determine which cases were elective or emergency surgeries.
She said surgery remained the most effective method to manage patients’ pain but that the hospital could not cope with the demand for orthopaedic surgeries.
Ms Johnstone said the surge in trauma had placed increased pressure on services at Victoria Hospital.
The three operating theatres have been running at full pace and all surgical disciplines had been able to cope with the increased trauma load, with the exception of orthopaedic surgery, she said.
“Unfortunately, elective surgery must sometimes be cancelled due to trauma cases.
“We recognise that this may cause inconvenience to patients,” she said.
Ms Johnstone assured the Plainsman that no other hospitals had been affected.
“It is important to note that elective surgeries were not
cancelled totally but rather reduced for six-months, but has since
been restarted at a reduced pace
to try and accommodate patients waiting for elective surgery,”
In the interim patients can use painkillers and assistive devices as per the doctor’s advice, she added.
Ms Johnstone said the hospital’s management would do their best to get through the massive trauma load and the elective surgery waiting list.
Colleen Smart, spokesperson for Dr Mbombo, confirmed receipt of Ms Safodien’s letter on Thursday October 4, which was referred to the department for investigation.