A groundbreaking agreement was recently signed between Stellenbosch University’s Campus Health Service and the Stellenbosch Hospital that will have a positive impact for students from low-income households who cannot access private medical services.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) allows Campus Health Service (CHS) patients to seamlessly access services at Stellenbosch Hospital. This agreement will allow easy referrals to the hospital, as well as access to medication aligned with provincial health protocols, laboratory tests and radiology (x-ray) investigations. At the signing of the agreement, Dr Natasha Blanckenberg, Manager: Medical Services at Stellenbosch Hospital, said this means doctors at SU’s campus clinic can refer patients who don’t have medical aid, or who would normally have used local clinics to access services such as blood tests or X-rays, without a referral from a state doctor. “Essentially, students no longer will have to see another doctor at the state facility as the reference letter from CHS is sufficient to give them direct access to state medical services,” Blanckenberg explained.
The first collaboration happened during the Covid-19 pandemic when services such as immunisation were synchronised between CHS and the Provincial Health Services in Stellenbosch, said Dr Pierre Viviers, Senior Director: CHS. “The collaboration worked really well and inspired us to continue aligning our services to ensure seamless access to medical services for all students. The protocols that we use at CHS are aligned with National and Provincial Health Department’s protocols and contributed to the seamless alignment between the entities. This cuts time for students and takes off pressure for Stellenbosch Hospital, especially in cases of medical emergencies,” Viviers explained.
He added that it is important for students to realise that even though the MOU may expediate services, the new arrangement does not allow any SU patient to jump the queue when they are referred for medication or special tests. The only difference is that they will not need to consult with a health care worker at the hospital once they have been referred from CHS.
Rector and vice-chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers praised the initiative and said it shows that SU’s commitment to students goes beyond the classroom. “We are proud to announce this MoU with Stellenbosch Hospital. This collaboration reflects our dedication to ensure that every student, regardless of their background, has access to quality medical services. We understand the challenges that students from low-income households often face, and this partnership is a significant step towards making healthcare more equitable and readily available to all,” De Villiers said.
PHOTO: Stefan Els