The Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital yesterday opened its doors to patients in its new home, a custom-designed 16-storey facility on Cape Town’s foreshore incorporating state-of-the-art medical technology.
“With the opening, our vision of a world class healthcare facility reflecting the spirit of excellence, innovation and sanctity of life cherished by the hospital’s namesake, Professor Christiaan Barnard, became a reality. We look forward to this new chapter in the hospital’s unfolding story, which has thus far been rich in leading-edge medical advances,” says Dr Richard Friedland, chief executive officer of Netcare.
The hospital’s official launch was celebrated on Saturday, 3 December 2016, to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the world’s first human heart transplant, and tribute was paid to this historic moment in world medicine at the event.
The launch was attended by a number of dignitaries including the MEC for Health in the Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, Cape Town deputy mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson, members of the late Professor Barnard’s family, and surviving members of the first human heart transplant team, among others.
MEC Mbombo and the deputy chairperson of the Netcare board of directors, Thevendrie Brewer, unveiled a plaque dedicated to the memory of Professor Barnard in the hospital foyer. The plaque reads: “Professor Christiaan Barnard achieved international fame for expanding the boundaries of medicine. Barnard was not only committed to furthering medical science, he was also deeply committed to patient care. In this exhibition Netcare honours Barnard the man, and pays tribute to the principles he stood for: science in service of humanity, and patient care in service of the individual. This exhibition is also for all the unsung champions of the healthcare profession. Those who dedicate their lives to these principles; serving the health and wellbeing of the individual to make our world a better place.”
Events leading up to the first heart transplantation are also acknowledged in the artwork and artefacts on display throughout the hospital, as is the work of the team who assisted with it.
“The broader role of Mr Hamilton Naki, an uneducated man with extraordinary surgical skills, was at the time hidden from the limelight due to the exclusionary policies of the apartheid regime. We have sought to give Mr Naki the appropriate recognition through the narrative of the hospital’s artwork,” Dr Friedland noted.
“It is our firm belief that the pioneering spirit and medical endeavours for which Professor Barnard is remembered will be carried forward at the new Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital,” he added.
Unveiling the plaque at the official launch of the new Netcare Christiaan Memorial Hospital are, from left to right: Armin Barnard, Deirdre Visser, the deputy chairperson of the Netcare board of directors, Thevendrie Brewer; the Western Cape Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo; Lara Barnard, Christiaan Barnard, Karin Berman and Netcare CEO, Dr Richard Friedland.
The contribution of those surviving members of the team involved in the first transplant was recognised at the event with the awarding of the Christiaan Barnard Gold Medal to Dr Cecil Moss, Tollie Lambrechts, Georgie de Klerk and Dene Friedman.
A fifth member of the team, Dr Joseph Ozinsky, was sadly not well enough to attend the event and the award was accepted on his behalf by his son, Max Ozinsky. The Christiaan Barnard Gold Medal was also posthumously awarded to Mr Hamilton Naki, and was accepted by his son, Sizwe Naki.
One striking feature on display in the new hospital is Marco Cianfanelli’s sculpture, Threshold, which is suspended from the roof in the foyer. At the official launch, Cianfanelli described how his sculpture captures the moment when Louis Washkansky, the recipient of the donor heart, had his ailing heart removed and Professor Barnard stared into the empty chest cavity of a living patient.
Cianfanelli also created a large portrait of Professor Barnard which also contains a collage of many portraits of Barnard which were painted by patients of his and sent to him as a sign of their gratitude.
“Ultimately, the sculpture is an impactful expression of hope, the potential for recovery, and the systems of support that allow for healing to occur,” Cianfanelli explained.
Dr Friedland thanked all of the stakeholders who have so hard worked to breathe life into the dream of developing the healthcare facility to world class standards. “As we welcome patients to this new centre of healing, the legacy of Professor Barnard and other medical pioneers will live on through the care and hope that that our hospital represents to them,” he concluded.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital
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