In the wake of country-wide protests against gender-based violence earlier this year, the False Bay Hospital is taking initiative to better its women’s healthcare services, according to the hospital’s manager for medical services, Dr Wendy Waddington.
Treatment of early-pregnancy complications, abortions, Pap smears and other gynaecological services, family planning, treatment of domestic-violence-related injuries and referrals for counselling, midwife services and an antenatal clinic are already available at the hospital, but specialist family physician, Dr Kaashiefah Adamson, will be developing and improving them.
“I will analyse the current services and suggest improvements based on the resources available,” Dr Adamson said.
Dr Adamson, who joined the hospital in July, previously worked at Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain district hospitals, where she was instrumental in developing women’s health services.
Dr Waddington said victims of sexual assault and rape who were seen at the False Bay emergency room were referred to the forensic unit at Victoria Hospital, and usually they were transported by the police after reporting the crimes.
However, she said, victims were encouraged to go to the forensic unit at Victoria Hospital before reporting to SAPS as arrangements could be made for police officers to attend to the victim there.
Head of the forensic unit at Victoria Hospital, Dr Rhene de Villiers, said they had a dedicated team of qualified staff specialising in gathering forensic evidence, completing the necessary documents and monitoring the chain of evidence.
“Staff are qualified to work with children who have been exposed to sexual abuse or rape and qualified counsellors are also available,” she said.
Victims also have access to prophylactic medicine to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Prophylactics are available at False Bay, but Dr Waddington advises patients to rather go to Victoria with its specialised unit, which runs 24 hours for patients who attend with SAPS as well as
Dr Waddington said some women did not feel comfortable being taken to Victoria Hospital by police officers hence the need to offer a more accessible service for women of the far south.
Department of Health spokeswoman, Natalie Watlington, confirmed that Victoria Hospital offered specialised services for victims of sexual abuse and rape at its forensic unit.
Dr Waddington said volunteers who would like to get involved in the women’s health-care unit could contact her at Wendy.Waddington@westerncape.gov.za