This regional report will be updated each time fresh information is
available. It is published on the website in imperfect form because people need
Milpark Hospital is one of the Netcare Group hospitals. The charity has
assisted burns patients via two other Netcare hospitals to date; Sunninghill
and Park Lane. [We have also helped a burns patient at the Linksfield Clinic
that belongs to another private hospital group, and little Dorah (see elsewhere
on website) has in the past been seen by an ophthalmic surgeon at the
Brenthurst Clinic.] All these hospitals mentioned are in greater Johannesburg.
Our connection with Milpark has been quite long term because Mfundo
Ntamehlo has had to visit the hospital on a weekly basis for many months now
and has had three operations there. While individual surgeons get full waiting
rooms, often even for pro Deo consultations, children get seen fairly
quickly. The worst wait we had was two hours but that was unusual.
Waiting rooms for individual surgeons are always clean, interesting,
stocked with magazines and courteous staff. Waiting at the main hospital
reception to check-in for an operation is a comfortable arrangement as well.
Early one November 2001 morning there were 14 people waiting to see the
administrators, but most of the people were friends or family so only about
five people waiting were actual patients. They sat on individual turqoise or
orange comfortable conference-type chairs for just a few minutes before being
called to the counter and then sitting on upright wood and steel chairs to
confirm their details for computer inputting. There were always more chairs
At the main desk or the three smaller computer terminals, there was no
glass barrier. It was easy to talk face to face to a motivated friendly and
smiling administrator. One would of course expect the staff to be courteous,
kind and helpful, especially bearing in mind that many patients or their
families would be anxious about the forthcoming operation. But the pleasantness
is in stark contrast to the sullenness frequently found in state hospitals.
Happy staff set the patient's mind at ease.
On one side of the room a small television showed the ETV news
headlines; on the other side of the airy, balconied, lobby there was a small
cafe and gift shop. A few pot plants added to the ambience.
The tiled floor was spotless; the lighting a mix of recessed
fluorescents and spotlights. The fact that spotlights are expensive does not
discount the fact that fluorescents are quite cheap to install and run - and it
was just the extra thought it took to recess them into the ceiling and to
diffuse the light, that made the difference to the atmosphere.
Waiting anywhere, one has a bad feeling if the staff meant to help one
disappear on long coffee breaks, stand chatting to their colleagues, or just
amble along, disinterestedly. This seems to be the rule rather than the
exception in the state system. The staff at Milpark constantly seemed busy,
walking purposefully, and always calm.
Even the security men, who noticed how disfigured burned children are,
managed not to stare or create any cruel discomfort. It cannot be so difficult
to replicate some of this system, in which even the patients were smiling, into
the state hospitals as well.