Gunshot patients in the spotlight

2019-08-13 06:00
Mary BrucePHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

Mary BrucePHOTO: siphesihle notwabaza

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“I thank the Lord for my life today because I could have been gone.”

These were the words of a visibly emotional Mary Bruce.

The Hanover Park resident shared her story at a media briefing, organised by the provincial health department and Groote Schuur Hospital, on Thursday 8 August.

Themed “Gun Shot Injuries at Groote Schuur Hospital Trauma Centre”, the event cast a spotlight on the challenges the hospital faced daily in caring for gunshot patients.

Bruce (48) told reporters what happened on Sunday 7 July, the day she was shot. “I was busy hanging washing when I heard gunshots,” she said.

When she turned around, she was hit by a bullet in her left leg. Bruce was rushed to Groote Schuur Hospital where she underwent operations on her leg.

She is currently in a wheelchair but she is positive she will make a full recovery.

“I do believe I will be able to walk again,” she said.

She thanked the hospital staff for their care during her stay.

She also called on authorities to strengthen measures to rehabilitate teenagers who were involved in drugs and gangsterism.

She did not reveal too many details about the person who shot her. All she said was she believed the perpetrator was not older than 17.

Bruce was joined by various officials from the provincial department of health, which included the provincial minister of health Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Professor Andy Nicol, head of the trauma centre at the hospital.

Nicol presented a PowerPoint presentation, outlining the surgery process for a gunshot patient.

During his presentation, he commended the Firearm Control Act, saying “it works”.

According to Nicol, the hospital admits 36 gunshot patients per month.

He also spoke about a growing trend in gunshot wound patients.

“In the past, we used to see single-shot gunshot patients, but that has changed,” he explained.

Now most are admitted with multiple gunshot wounds.

Mbombo lambasted the media for always pointing fingers at the authorities when things go wrong in the health sector.

As an example, she mentioned the outcry over patients who were reportedly sleeping on the floor at some Khayelitsha hospitals.

She explained the reason for occurrences like these was a decrease in the available budget, which was further depleted by the high cost of violence-related care.

She said the department sometimes finds itself in a position where it has to redirect an ambulance that has been sent out.

“We are doing battleground medicine. We rob Paul to pay Pauline,” she said, describing instances where some call-outs had to take priority over others due to the severity of injuries.

She also discussed the shortage of staff at hospitals which she attributed to the dwindling budget.

In a bid to address the rise in gunshot patients, she said the department was conducting external interventions in the classified “red zone areas”.

She explained that data will be collected to determine if progress had been made.

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