What began as a pipe dream over a decade ago, became a reality for renowned ophthalmologist, Dr Erhardt Kidson and his colleagues when the Kalahari Cataract, Eye and Day Theatre opened its doors to the community of Upington and surrounding areas on 17 July.
Pic "Dr Erhardt Kidson of the Kalahari Cataract, Eye and Day Theatre using the highly advanced new surgical ophthalmic microscope, the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Photograph supplied by Gemsbok, Upington"
The new state-of-the-art facility is the result of years of careful planning and is a collaborative effort between Dr Kidson and Medicross, a provider of primary healthcare services and a fully-owned subsidiary of Netcare, a leading South African private healthcare group.
Situated in the Northern Cape province, one would not expect this somewhat remote part of the world to be home to one of the most advanced surgical ophthalmic microscopes in the southern hemisphere. Already attracting patients from as far afield as Gauteng, and serving as a day theatre facility to some of the country’s foremost doctors and specialists, Dr Kidson believes that the Kalahari Cataract, Eye and Day Theatre will do much to improve access to quality healthcare services for the people of the Northern Cape and surrounding areas.
It took Dr Kidson a decade to establish what can be described as one of the most sophisticated cataract and eye centres on the continent, Dr Kidson, initiator of the project, says he was determined to see his dream of performing surgery using an advanced surgical microscope coupled with consulting rooms and diagnostic equipment come to fruition.
When it comes to the functionality of the Leica Proveo ophthalmic surgical microscope, Dr Kidson says that due to its patented superior optic system, it enables surgeons to not only see eye structures in finer, high definition (HD) detail, but also to see structures that are not visible with some of the traditional optical systems that are generally in use today.
“The microscope features a brand new full LED illumination system with colour rendering capabilities as well as a full HD video recording system. It has a sophisticated intra-ocular lens (IOL) guidance system that tracks the eye during surgery to ensure precise placement of the intra-ocular lens, especially in patients requiring a uniquely shaped lens. The modular nature of the surgical microscope also makes it possible for a one-of-a-kind ceiling mounted installation not found currently anywhere else in the world,” explains Dr Kidson.
According to Dr Kidson, in addition to the installation of the microscope, part of the plan was to ensure the highest level of eye care in line with international standards, delivered by some of the country’s top specialist ophthalmologists.
Apart from Dr Kidson’s specialist treatment of glaucoma, cataracts, diabetes and anterior segment surgery, visiting specialist ophthalmologists include the likes of renowned vitreo-retinal ophthalmology specialist, Dr Johan van der Berg, paediatric ophthalmology specialist, Dr Rhian Grotte, oculoplastics ophthalmology specialist, Dr Eugene Meyer, and cornea and refractive ophthalmology specialist, Dr Stef Guglielmetti, all of whom regularly travel to Upington to perform surgery at the Kalahari Cataract, Eye and Day Theatre.
Due to its location near the southern Namibian and Botswana borders, the Kalahari Cataract, Eye and Day Theatre will also serve communities from those areas. “We are very excited about the many benefits the new day theatre will bring to the people of not only Upington but the whole of South Africa and surrounds. It is strategically located approximately 800 km from both Cape Town and Johannesburg and will also serve certain currently under-served communities within Namibia and Botswana,” says Dr Kidson.
“The services offered by the day theatre will attract people who previously would have had to travel great distances in order to access the required level of care. However, with the addition of the new surgical microscope and the specialist treatment provided by the country’s top ophthalmologists, we anticipate many will specifically earmark this facility for their eye surgery as well as for the other surgical procedures offered here,” he adds.
Dr Kidson says: “It was thanks to my ophthalmologist uncle and mentor that my interest in ophthalmology was first sparked. He always emphasised the importance of keeping up to date with the very latest developments within a particular medical discipline and provided me with great insight into the ophthalmology field, which he drew from attending a number of international congresses.
“His passion for ophthalmology and his fascinating accounts of remarkable surgeries he had successfully performed, inspired me to research and plan a way to bring a world-class service to the people of the Northern Cape.
“It is wonderful knowing that I can perform eye surgery in the sophisticated, cutting-edge facility I have always dreamed of, and I am grateful to Medicross for sharing my vision and for the invaluable role they have played in establishing this ultra-modern medical services facility,” concludes Dr Kidson.
Issued by: Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Medicross
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw or Alison Sharp
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
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