Serious burns patients from around the continent referred to Johannesburg burns centre

SA’s first dedicated private burns unit commemorates 10 years of service

Thursday, September 20 2018

The renowned burns unit at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, which was the first private facility of its kind to be established in South Africa and saves the lives of scores of serious burn patients every year, is this year commemorating its 10th anniversary.

“The doctors and staff members at Netcare Milpark Hospital emergency department’s dedicated burns unit have brought hope and healing to many individuals from our country and from the African continent who have suffered major burns over the past decade,” affirms Mande Toubkin, Netcare’s general manager emergency, trauma, transplant and corporate social investment.

According to Toubkin, more than 600 patients with major, or priority 1, burns have been treated at the burns unit over the last seven years, an average of nearly 90 such patients a year. “The facility has achieved outstanding outcomes in these patients, many of whom would have been considered untreatable in the past,” she adds.

“If one considers that priority 1 burns are by their definition life threatening, and they unquestionably constitute one of the most complex and demanding areas of medicine, the significant achievements of the Netcare Milpark Hospital burns unit over the last 10 years becomes all too evident. It is therefore not surprising that the facility is today widely considered a leader in the treatment of severe burns cases in Africa,” she observes.

“Netcare would like to take the opportunity to thank the multidisciplinary team who have served the company and their patients with such dedication and professionalism over the years. They deserve our acknowledgement and thanks.”

Toubkin notes that priority 1 burns are among the most severe traumatic injuries that people can suffer, requiring prompt and highly specialised medical intervention to ensure the best possible outcomes in terms of survival, recovery and future quality of life.

“Severely burned patients are therefore best cared for at a dedicated treatment facility that has the most modern equipment and technology to support a multidisciplinary team of medical and healthcare professionals.”

“An important priority for the Netcare Milpark Hospital emergency department is to make people more aware of burn risks such as the potential dangers of flammable and chemical substances and electricity, because improved mindfulness and the adoption of safer practices can assist to prevent such tragedies from occurring.”

According to the Netcare Milpark Hospital burns unit’s patient data for the period October 2011 to September 2018, burns caused by fire accounted for most (24%) of the private patients who have been treated in the facility, while 22% had suffered electrical burns. Some 12% of the burns resulted from industrial explosions, 10% were chemical burns, 8% from hot water, 7% were from petrol fires, 7% from non-industrial gas cylinder explosions and 4% were caused by hot drinks/food/cooking oil. A further 4% of admissions were for smoke inhalation and 2% for steam burns.

Commenting on the data, Toubkin said: “They underscore the dangers that may even be posed by cooking at home, or when handling electricity or gas. They also highlight the importance of being conscious of following safe practices at home and in the workplace when handling flammable, hot and chemical substances and when working with electricity.”

The manager of the burns unit’s intensive care unit, Katinka Rheeder, explains that the facility comprises a dedicated burns intensive care theatre and eight intensive care isolation cubicles, which are designed to protect severe burn patients, who tend to be highly susceptible to infection. The multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals, led by well-known trauma surgeon, Professor Ken Boffard, closely monitor their patients around the clock.

“Netcare Milpark Hospital admits burns patients who are referred from not only from across the country, but also from the African continent. These patients have suffered from such severe burns that few other facilities on the continent are able to adequately treat them,” she explains.

“Nursing patients back to health after they have experienced the devastating trauma of severe burns is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work. It is wonderful when a former patient takes the time and trouble to come back to visit us and thank the staff and doctors for their efforts. Taking care of burns patients can be demanding, however, and requires well-trained and emotionally resilient staff members and healthcare professionals.”

According to Professor Boffard, the severity of burn injuries is determined by the type and the extent of the burns suffered. He notes that the ultimate success of treatment depends upon how quickly the patient can access care that is appropriate to their particular injury. He says treatment needs to be tailored to the individual to ensure the best possible treatment and outcomes.

“The majority of burns patients, even those with burns over more than 70% of their bodies, can be successfully treated and managed if they are admitted timeously to a specialised, multidisciplinary burns facility. An effective continuum of care, from the paramedics who first attend to the emergency through to final rehabilitation, is however critical to achieving such positive outcomes,” he emphasises.

“The Netcare Milpark Hospital burns unit continues to offer the very highest levels of care, and has made a profound difference in the lives of burns patients over the years. We congratulate the unit on its 10th anniversary and thank each and everyone involved in its successes and for their unswerving dedication to their patients throughout the years,” concludes Toubkin.


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:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]