Medical Centre hails new era for UCT research and training

28 May 2002

Health care for the 21st century: Sister Trudie van Baalen gives the Toshiba Angiography Intervention Suite the once-over prior to the official opening last Friday, February 15, of the UCT Medical Centre (UCTMC) at Groote Schuur Hospital. The Centre has been in operation since late January.

WITH the opening of the UCT Medical Centre (UCTMC) at Groote Schuur Hospital last Friday, February 15, a new era of health care and training was hailed at the University, with the Centre set to become a wellspring for world-class teaching and research.

The Medical Centre is the product of a partnership with Rhön-Klinikum AG, one of Germany's leading private hospital groups. It will not only serve as a state-of-the-art private health care facility, but will also allow UCT medical students with further opportunities for training.

Following a lease agreement with the Western Cape Province two years ago, UCT secured space in Groote Schuur for a 124-bed hospital. The UCTMC accommodates, among other things, a 32-bed medical department, a 40-bed surgical department, a 20-bed day-clinic, interdisciplinary high and intensive care units, and four fully equipped operating theatres.

The Centre also boasts a range of the latest and best in health care equipment. This includes an Interventional Angiography Unit used for the detection of vascular disease; a Diagnostic X-Ray Mammography Unit for the early detection of lesions in the breast; and an ultra-fast and highly efficient Computed Tomography Scanner, ie CAT Scan.

The UCTMC will employ both full-time and part-time professional staff, working on a salaried rather than a fee-for-service basis.

According to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, the University had for some time considered establishing a private medical centre, following ongoing cuts in the provincial hospital budget and the progressive closure of large sections of Groote Schuur Hospital. "The budget cuts and closures have reduced the clinical platform available for teaching and research, which has historically formed the backbone of the partnership in health care delivery between UCT and the Provincial Administration," he said.

"We appreciate the reason for the budget cuts. However, they have meant that Groote Schuur Hospital can no longer provide all the human and material resources needed for sophisticated medical training and research." The UCTMC will not only help the University retain key medical specialists, but would also provide a platform for world-class teaching and research, he added.

Ndebele also noted that the new partnership with Rhön-Klinikum, a company that owns and operates 28 highly successful private hospitals in Germany, also holds a range of advantages. "The Centre will benefit from Rhön-Klinikum AG's experience in operating efficiencies, process design, staffing models and administrative skills," he said.

The UCT Medical Centre will be a self-contained facility on Groote Schuur Hospital's D level, with access to parking in Groote Schuur's J and L zone parking areas.

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