Photo Essay

Groote Schuur trauma ward: ‘We are overloaded with violence’

By Leila Dougan and Shaun Swingler 4 July 2018

“We have become so overloaded with this concept of violence and how much danger we actually live in in society,” says Professor Nicol. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler

Warning: The following story contains images that some may find disturbing.

Weekends are the busiest times at the Groote Schuur Trauma Centre in Cape Town. In the early hours of the morning doctors, nurses and support staff are on their feet for hours at a time during their 12-hour shifts and have very little time to see to one case before patients on stretchers are lined up at the door. Daily Maverick spent the weekend with the healthcare professionals who save lives.

The Groote Schuur Trauma Centre, a centre that focuses purely on major trauma, sees 1300 patients each month. The centre has 50 beds in total and 10 high care beds and sees patients who have been involved in motorcar accidents, as well as those who have been shot and stabbed and need specialised care. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
Professor Andrew Nicol is the director of the Trauma Centre at Groote Schuur hospital and says that they treat about 80-90 gunshot wounds per month. Patients who come in with gunshot wounds are often male, aged 25-30. Injured women who come in to the Trauma Centre are usually victims of intimate partner or gender based violence. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
“We see a lot of stabbings and gunshot injuries,” says Professor Andrew Nicol, director of the Trauma Centre at Groote Schuur hospital. Surgeons from across the continent and the world come to study at Groote Schuur, which has become known as an “international training centre”. “People come here to have a look and see how we manage trauma,” says Nicol.” It’s crazy because you can be a trauma surgeon in the UK and you might not see a gunshot for 9 months. Whereas we’re seeing about 70 – 80 a month.” 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
Nicol says that a specialised trauma centre is necessary because mortality rates can be reduces by as much as 40%. “That’s our aim, to try and ensure that if you’re traumatised that you survive,” says Nicol, who has been the director of the Groote Schuur Trauma Centre for the past 20 years. 30 June 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan
The trauma centre has state of the art equipment including x-ray machines and a data capturing system which allows the staff to record information about which areas in Cape Town their patients are coming from, their age groups and gender, to assist academics and researchers about violence prone communities. 30 June 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan
The Groote Schuur Trauma Centre also has a blood bank on site which is essential for their work. The reserves are usually “quite good” according to Professor Andrew Nicol, “until December” when demand soars. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
Doctors and nurses work long hours, often spending close to 60 hours in the Trauma Centre on average per week. Weekends, especially at month end, are the busiest with alcohol and drug use playing a huge role in car accidents, gunshot wounds and stabbings that the staff see to. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
Doctors and nurses work long hours, often spending close to 60 hours in the Trauma Centre on average per week. Weekends, especially at month end, are the busiest with alcohol and drug use playing a huge role in car accidents, gunshot wounds and stabbings that the staff see to. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler
Doctor Dean Tait prepares plaster for a pedestrian who was involved in a motorcar accident, both his legs were broken and he suffered a traumatic brain injury before being rushed to the Groote Schuur Trauma Centre. 30 June 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan
The team at the Groote Schuur Trauma Centre, including Dr Dean Tait (left), Christle Klaasen (middle) and Dr Mikhail Botha (right) plaster the leg of a man who was involved in a motorcar accident. 30 June 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

Main Photo: ‘We have become so overloaded with this concept of violence and how much danger we actually live in in society,’ says Professor Nicol. 30 June 2018. Photo: Shaun Swingler DM

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