Professor Angela Dramowski, a paediatric infectious diseases specialist in the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, was recently appointed as Head Clinical Unit (General Paediatrics) at Tygerberg Hospital, an appointment she said is, “without a doubt", the highlight of her career.
Known for her passion to improve infection prevention and control (IPC) practices and health professions education, Dramowski said she looks forward to leading a team of specialist paediatricians with the aim of creating positive change and improving the services they offer.
“It is a huge honour and privilege to be given this opportunity. The colleagues are a dynamic, experienced and multi-talented group of paediatricians and the nursing staff provide excellent care to our patients. On top of that, we are a teaching unit. This will be a very diverse position with competencies required in clinical care as well as teaching and research," Dramowski said.
“It is this diversity and the opportunity to expand my skill set that attracted me to the position, as well as the opportunity to improve services we offer to children and families."
Dr Granville Marinus, Medical Manager for Paediatrics and Child Health at Tygerberg Hospital, confirmed that “we are extremely fortunate to have recruited a Head of Clinical Unit for General Paediatrics of such calibre. Apart from her exceptional talents, she clearly understands her overall role of leadership in the area of sound clinical governance, but more so the importance of collaboration with key role-players and the promotion of better health care for children across our Metro-East platform and our province".
Dramowski said the appointment will see her transitioning into a more holistic leadership position. “I've been working in clinical research for the last decade as associate professor in infectious diseases at Stellenbosch University. Even though I've been in the department, I've had less of a clinical and teaching role, so this is a great opportunity to bring together the full skill set and to develop my career as clinician, teacher and researcher.
“The overarching task for me will be to lead the team delivering all these disciplines towards improving service delivery in general paediatrics.
“What excites me the most about the new role is to craft a shared vision of where we want to go with child services for not only Tygerberg but for the wider community."
Dramowski, who grew up in Durban, moved to Cape Town in 1995 to study medicine at the University of Cape Town (UCT). After finishing her undergraduate studies, she travelled and worked as a locum in neonatology and paediatrics in the United Kingdom, after which she returned to South Africa to do her community service.
“During this time, I worked as a medical officer at the Red Cross Hospital, which I loved, and it was this experience that made me decide that I wanted to specialise as a paediatrician."
She then moved to the University of Witwatersrand where she completed her paediatric training at the Chris Hani Baragwanath and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals.
“My time there coincided with the height of the HIV epidemic, when many children were dying from AIDS-related complications. That really fuelled my interest in infectious diseases. I returned to Cape Town in 2008 to work with Professor Mark Cotton, the pre-eminent paediatric HIV expert. I then sub-specialised in infectious diseases and spent the next decade doing research on various infectious disease topics but mostly infection prevention, a neglected area of research in South Africa. Infection is one of the most common complications of hospitalisation and often leads to preventable deaths in both children and adults.
“That became my passion and research focus and I am still very much invested in finding ways to ensure patient safety as well as staff occupational safety which became a global issue with Covid-19 last year," she said.
Among her many achievements, including leading the writing process in a book entitled Infection Prevention and Control, Dramowski received a Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) International Ambassador award in 2013 and an Emerging Global Leader career development award from the US National Institutes of Health in 2018.
Dramowski paid tribute to a number of excellent mentors she's had along the way. “Nobody comes into a position of leadership without being pulled up by people who walked the path before."
When she is not working, Dramowski enjoys hiking, the outdoors and doing wildlife photography. “I also help out with a Cub Scout pack with seven to 11 year-olds which is lots of fun and keeps me on my toes."
She cited the philosopher, Rumi as an inspiration in her life, for his determination “to go back to the tenets of being human. I try to see the humanity in every person in every scenario we deal with. That's my starting point for every conversation – to understand where someone is coming from, to keep an open mind at all times, hear all sides of an argument and find a shared purpose. I know that will be key to achieving change and to uniting everybody I work with in this new position behind a common vision."