Monday, April 8, 2013

Day One: Arriving at Baragwanath


Our day started with a drive to Soweto (population 2 million), the former Black township of apartheid South Africa that is part of the municipal area of Johannesburg. We will be spending the next 2 weeks at the hospital that cares for the Soweto population, Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital. Bara is the third largest hospital in the world and a teaching hospital for the University of Witwatersrand Medical School.

Our hosts are Prof Roy Shires and Kershlin Naidu, a 1st year endocrine fellow, of the endocrine section in the Bara Dept of Medicine, which  is chaired by another endocrinologist Prof Ken Huddle (endocrinology romps!).

Driving through the main gates of Bara Hospital



Arriving on our first morning at Bara











Some background about the hospital (provided to the blog with the help of Dr. Ken Huddle's gift to us - a book he edited entitled: Baragwanath hospital: 50 years a Medical Miscellany). 



Baragwanath opened in 1942 as a military hospital for Allied war casualties from the Middle and Far East. After the end of WWII, it briefly served as a tuberculosis hospital before it acquired its current mission in 1947—a hospital devoted to the health of the Black community of Soweto.

The official name of the hospital lengthened in 1997 when it was renamed Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in memory of Chris Hani, an opponent of apartheid who was assassinated in 1993.



Ilona walking to the medicine department - starting the day







Dr. Mandel and Jean Johnstone - the secretary of the Department of Medicine



Today was a fascinating preview of what is to come for us during our stay. Guided by Dr. Shires and Kirshlin we walked around the extensive hospital grounds, glimpsing the one story inpatient wards, and learning about the admissions process for an on call medicine team. 




Dr. Mandel and Kershlin walking between hospital wards


Next, we visited the outpatient endocrine clinic, met one the diabetes educators, and observed a diabetes education class conducted in Zulu, the language of the largest South African ethnic group.  




The outpatient building

Kershlin, Ilona, and Dr. Shires in the outpatient building


The pharmacy at the outpatient clinics


Ilona with Lareto Modibedi, the diabetes educator. 


diabetes education class




At the end of our tour we were treated to a regalia of Baragwanath history from Prof David Blumsohn who (without giving away his age!) is one of the oldest faculty members at Bara, on staff since the 1950s.



Can you find Professor Blumsohn in this photo?

Bara Medical Staff - 1958

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