Health care services in South Africa and the Western Cape face many challenges. Foremost of these is the challenge of providing equal access to advanced healthcare for all. The vast geographical landscape we find ourselves in often isolates patients in terms of healthcare access and this is especially true for patients from previously disadvantaged communities. We have now launched a unique Outreach Program that aims to address this inequality. The core of this program involves regular visits by a consultant cardiologist from our unit to the secondary level hospitals we serve. The aim is for patients to be evaluated at their local hospitals by way of clinical examination, electrocardiography, stress electrocardiography and echocardiography. An additional advantage of this approach is that health care workers in rural areas are trained and empowered to manage complex cardiac cases. This program will significantly decrease the cost per patient served and improve the health care experience of patients accessing this service.
We initiated the project in May 2013 at Paarl Hospital with great success. We have had positive feedback form patients, health care workers and administrators alike and will increase the roll out to other secondary level hospitals in our referral area.
SUNheart aims to establish infrastructure and human resources to expand this program.
Aims of the Outreach Project are to:
- Provide equal access to cardiology services
- Improve patient care
- Reduce waiting times for outpatient visits
- Reduce outpatient burden and thus costs to Tygerberg Hospital
- Improve skill level of secondary level hospital staff
- Expand training capacity
For more information contact:
Alfonso JK Pecoraro
Division of Cardiology
Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital