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Johannesburg pacemaker clinic celebrates 30 years of service to the community

Regular follow-up is critical after a pacemaker is implanted

Friday, November 6 2020

The pacemaker clinic at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, the only such nurse-managed clinic in a private hospital in Africa, is celebrating its 30th anniversary of service to the community this year.

“The pacemaker clinic at Netcare Milpark Hospital was started back in 1990 by well-known cardiologist and electrophysiologist, Dr IWP ‘Pro’ Obel, together with the nurses from the electrophysiology laboratory, Sr Danielle Frade and Sr Judy Daniels,” says Marc van Heerden, general manager of the hospital.

“Internationally, pacemaker clinics are run by nursing professionals, whereas other such facilities in the local private sector are managed by cardiac technologists,” says Sr Susarah Klopper, who manages the pacemaker clinic at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

Sr Klopper says the clinic is currently staffed by three experienced registered nurses, one of which has an IBHRE (International Board of Heart Rhythm Examiners) CCDS (Certified Cardiac Device Specialist) qualification.

“While our facility is run as an outpatient clinic, it is part of the Electrophysiology Laboratory [EP Lab] complex, and we work closely with the cardiologists and electrophysiologists at the hospital,” Sr Klopper explains.

The clinic’s services include clinical evaluation and interrogation of pacemakers and defibrillators that have been implanted in patients.

“We also re-programme and test devices for in-hospital patients and those going to theatre or for scans such as MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] and are involved in the implantation of devices as well as other procedures. We also check devices for patients who are not affiliated to a doctor at the hospital.”

According to Sr Klopper, the nursing professionals at the clinic are able to check a wide variety of implanted cardiac devices from different manufacturers, including the following:

  • Low power devices – single chamber, dual chamber and CRT (cardiac resynchronisation therapy) pacemakers.
  • High power devices – single chamber, dual chamber and CRT internal cardiac defibrillators.   

“A pacemaker is a small device that's placed under the skin in your chest to help control a slow [bradycardia] heartbeat. Internal cardiac defibrillators are used to help your heart beat more regularly if you have an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Regular follow-up is important after a pacemaker or defibrillator is implanted to ensure that the device continues to function properly and to monitor the life of the device” explains Sr Klopper.

“Your cardiologist will tell you how often you will need to have your implanted devices checked. However, a complete check should be done six weeks after the device is implanted. The device is thereafter usually checked every three to six months,” she adds.

“During check-ups, we determine if the device detected and corrected any abnormal heart rhythms and also check the batteries. These visits are therefore of critical importance for those patients who have pacemakers and defibrillators.

“When the battery function of the device, which usually lasts between four to eight years, becomes low, the device needs to be replaced. For this reason, patients also need to visit their cardiologist annually for a complete annual examination.”

One patient who has found the services offered at Netcare Milpark Hospital’s pacemaker clinic convenient, is 26-year-old Jaco Redelinghuys, a financial manager from Johannesburg. He developed bradycardia, a very slow heart rhythm, and had a pacemaker implanted early in 2017. His pacemaker has a built-in heart rate drop response function that activates as soon as his resting heart rate drops below 45 beats per minute, and he goes for follow-up evaluations at the clinic once every six months.

“The Netcare Milpark Hospital pacemaker clinic is an excellent facility and I have always been very happy with the service I have received there. Once at the gym I broke a pacemaker wire and had to have it fixed and replaced, which was done expertly by the pacemaker clinic staff,” says Redelinghuys.

“My cardiologist is Dr Graham Cassel, who practises at Netcare Milpark Hospital, and is a brilliant doctor. Earlier this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to have my pacemaker removed, rewired and implanted again, which was a very strange experience given all the necessary COVID related processes that had to be adhered to but I couldn’t fault the hospital at all on my treatment there, which was excellent.

“Although I miss playing rugby, which I did before I developed my first cardiovascular condition, I am grateful for my life and am doing extremely well under the care of Dr Cassel and the pacemaker clinic.”

“Sr Klopper and her team provide an important service to cardiac patients, and we congratulate them on attaining this outstanding milestone,” concluded Van Heerden.

Ends

To find out more about the services offered through Netcare hospitals and other of the Group’s facilities, please contact Netcare’s customer service centre either by email at customer.service@netcare.co.za or phone 0860 NETCARE (0860 638 2273). Note that the centre operates Mondays to Fridays from 08:00 to 16:00.

Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities for YOU. Simply phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00, or go online at www.netcare.co.za/Request-a-medical-appointment to request an appointment.

For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.

Issued by:            MNA on behalf of Netcare Milpark Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville and Estene Lotriet-Vorster
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    connect@mnapr.co.za, martina@mnapr.co.za, graeme@mnapr.co.za, meggan@mnapr.co.za or estene@mnapr.co.za

 

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