Making a Difference in the Lives of Patients in Need

MLCCP patient navigator Ms Sthabile Mdluli and one of the wheelchairs available through the loan service.

The Patient Navigation Team at the Cancer and Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Research Unit (CIDERU) and the Multinational Lung Cancer Control Programme (MLCCP) at UKZN have worked together to establish a wheelchair loan service for their patients.

Three wheelchairs, acquired through sponsorship from the Network of Caring, are currently available for use by those in need with hopes that sponsors will provide more chairs.

Users are not charged a fee or deposit on the condition the chairs are returned when no longer required.

Those involved in the laudable project are patient navigator Ms Sthabile Mdluli; patient navigation project officer Ms Buhle Lubuzo; project driver Mr Wanele Masinga and Co-Principal Investigator at the MLCCP, Mr Siyabonga Dlamini.

They are supported by Project Manager at the Network of Caring, Ms Liza Mosia and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation (BMSF).

The initiative stemmed from a pressing need to address the lack of post-care support for patients after they leave public health facilities.

Most patients undergoing stage four lung cancer treatment tend to lose their mobility and many are unable to afford a wheelchair, resulting in them often becoming “bed bound” after being discharged from public healthcare facilities.

Said Mdluli: ‘The patient navigation team stepped in to raise awareness about the need to address the many barriers that patients with diseases like cancer face when interacting with the complex public health system. These challenges pose a heavy burden on many health care providers. So, we are trying to ease that by also being a pillar of support to our patients while they undergo treatment as most of them face socio-economic challenges. As the patient navigation team, we wanted to assist by providing psycho-social care on top of the clinical care they receive already at Inkosi Albert Luthuli and Addington hospitals. That is how the wheelchair lending service was born.’

Words: Ziphezinhle Silindile Sibisi

Photographs: Supplied