In May 2014, STEPS signed a support partnership with a newly established clubfoot clinic at Tintswalo Hospital in Acornhoek, a rural hospital close to the Kruger Park, servicing a large area and 1.5 million patients.
The clubfoot clinic was started in April by Dr Carl Fatti, a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon who attended STEPS’ first Ponseti training in 2006.
Dr Fatti treated clubfoot patients at Newcastle (Kwa-Zulu Natal), Hermanus Provincial Hospital and Helderberg Hospital (Western Cape) before he went to Tintswalo in Mpumalanga Province.
Close to Kruger Park’s Orpen Gate, and about two hours drive north of Nelspruit, this is a very beautiful part of South Africa. It’s popular with tourists looking for a luxury bush and wildlife experience, but the local people are impoverished. There are social problems, there is little employment, many single-parent families, and children are under-nourished. It’s understandable that with these challenges the families of clubfoot patients struggle to attend the clinic regularly. STEPS has been fundraising for transport assistance to help reduce the default rate of clinic attendance.
In August Dr Fatti gave a clubfoot talk and demonstration to a group of 20 healthcare workers including physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The day before his talk a mother came to the hospital with an 18-month-old boy with severe untreated bilateral clubfoot, so Dr Fatti included this patient in his demonstration of the Ponseti method. We are hopeful that this mother will, with the help from STEPS and the clinic’s staff, bring her son every week for the treatment he needs so he can walk and run like other children.
The clinic has started well. Nine patients had Ponseti casts, and some are in the bracing phase already. One of the patients has grown out of the brace and his mother brought him back for a replacement.
STEPS keeps the clinic supplied with braces and we will be visiting them in the next few weeks to take our Ponseti for Parents© educational materials, and to discuss training of medical officers and physiotherapists who will be involved in the clinic. We will also visit other clinics in Mpumalanga to talk about clubfoot support. We are very happy that we are able to reach patients in such a remote area with the help of committed doctors and other medical staff.