Two-year old’s life saved on opening day of new emergency department

First critical patient already recovering after near-death choking incident

Thursday, August 17 2017

When Patricia Claassen ran into the hospital’s emergency department clutching the limp, lifeless body of her grandson, Stefan Els, who had choked on a piece of chicken, she expected the worst.

It was the opening day of the new 24-hour emergency department at Netcare Cuyler Hospital. The newly upgraded facility is equipped with state of the art technology and has been established to provide the communities of Uitenhage, Despatch and surrounds with much-needed emergency care. The clinical aspects of facility are managed by ER Consulting Inc., an independent emergency management company.

"Pic: On the road to recovery. From left to right: Patricia Claassen; Dr Nelson Alves, chief operations officer of ER Consulting Inc. and Stefan Els together with Eleanor Wicomb and Maria van der Merwe, both registered nurses at Netcare Cuyler Hospital."

“We had just opened up our doors that morning, and up until then we had only seen patients with abrasions and minor injuries,” explains Dr Marné Page, principal clinical manager of the practice. “Stefan was the first critical patient we had to attend to.”

“When his grandmother brought him in, Stefan had no heartbeat or pulse and his pupils were dilated. Technically speaking he was clinically dead,” says Dr Page. “We immediately examined his airway, removed the obstruction and began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR),” he explains.

Dr Nelson Alves, chief operations officer of the practice was also present and helped to revive the small boy. “After about five minutes of CPR Stefan began gasping for breath and his eyes began registering normally to light and movement,” says Dr Alves. “After he was stabilised Stefan was moved to the paediatric intensive care unit for further monitoring and treatment.”

Stefan’s mother, Andriette Els, says it is very difficult to describe how she felt. “I was happy, sad, relieved and shocked all at the same time. I was on my way back from work when my mom phoned and told me to come to the hospital immediately. You can’t possibly describe the feeling. Losing a child is any parent’s worst fear.

“If it was not for the doctors at Netcare Cuyler Hospital’s emergency department and the efficiency and speed they employed to assist my little boy, I don’t think he would be here today. I’m also extremely grateful to my parents-in-law who got him to the hospital so quickly,” she adds.

Shortly after his brush with death Stefan began to show signs of recovery. He has since been released and all signs indicate that he will make a full recovery.

“Children are generally very resilient in these kinds of situations,” explains Dr Page. “Stefan is recovering very well and there are no signs of any permanent damage.”

Victor Mutle, general manager of Netcare Cuyler Hospital, says the whole hospital was overjoyed that the emergency doctors were able to resuscitate Stefan. “We wish him and his family well and hope that he makes a full and speedy recovery,” says Mutle.

“Our first priority has always been to ensure that our service offering is tailored to meet the specific needs of the community we serve. It is clearly evident that the new emergency department will make an invaluable contribution to the hospital, delivering a quicker and more specialised service to our patients,” he concludes.


Issued by:    Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of Netcare Cuyler Hospital
Contact:    Martina Nicholson, Graeme Swinney, Meggan Saville, Pieter Rossouw and Alison Sharp
Telephone:    (011) 469 3016
Email:    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]