New neonatal unit opens

At the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Dr Jack Abelsohn Neonatal Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital, are, from left, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, unit manager Laurian Henry and the late Dr Abelsohns daughter, Anna Moshal.

Premature babies have been given a new lifeline at Groote Schuur Hospital which opened its new hi-tech neonatal unit on Tuesday.

It has been named the Dr Jack Abelsohn Neonatal Unit, in honour of the late Dr Abelsohn, the first doctor to perform an anaesthetic operation at the hospital. The renovation of the neonatal unit was made possible by a donation of R60 million from Dr Abelsohn’s family.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the unit could “set the template” for other hospitals.

“I would like to thank the donors, hospital management and staff and the trust for the work that they put in, to make this facility world class. You have demonstrated, through commitment, that we can make public health care the sector provider of choice,” he said.

The unit took two years to complete, and other donations came from the Newborns Groote Schuur Trust.

Professor Mike Harrison, head of the neonatal unit said it was much bigger than the old facility with a lot more space and new technology.

“It’s baby friendly, it’s more friendly to the mothers and the staff. It’s much easier to work in,” he said.

Professor Harrison said the extra space would allow for better infection control.

Aisha Raman, who gave birth to her son, Luka, four weeks ago, said: “I have been here for four weeks. I have been here every single day. I watched him grow. All the sisters have helped me so much, and I do everything on my own already. I would definitely recommend this hospital to everybody.”

Unit manager Laurian Henry said the new unit had space for 75 babies as had the old one, but they could be cared for in less cramped conditions.

“It’s a remarkable transformation that took place from the previous unit to where we are now,” she said.

Dr Abelsohn’s daughter, Anna Moshal, said her father had been the most caring, compassionate and loyal doctor.

“He gave the first anaesthetic at the hospital and gave his last anaesthetic two days before he died. He died in this hospital in the cardiac unit,” she said.