Gideon Loevinsohn, MD
Gideon Loevinsohn, MD
Emergency Medicine · Boston, MA

Trauma Care & Training in Cape Town, South Africa

March 8th
Cape Town, South Africa

Project Description

As part of this project, I will be working in Cape Town, South Africa at Tygerberg Hospital within the hospital’s trauma unit. I will be providing care as part of one of the unit’s specialty trauma teams, caring for patients with traumatic injuries. The unit sees over 12,000 patients per year with a mix of both blunt and penetrating injuries. I will be functioning as a registrar physician, the South African equivalent of a clinical resident. My role will span the breadth of emergency department trauma care: from triage and initial resuscitation of injured patients, to emergent procedures such as laceration repair, tube thoracostomies, and airway management, and finally to disposition decisions and consultation with consulting teams. I will be supervised by attending physicians in both emergency medicine and trauma surgery.

The care provided will help to address the significant burden of trauma in the Cape Town region and provide acute, evidence-based care to a highly at-risk population.

Population Served

This effort will focus on the care of traumatically injured patients in the Cape Town region of South Africa. South Africa bears a disproportionate burden of trauma and in particular injuries stemming from interpersonal violence. Traumatic injuries are heavily concentrated in young (15-29 years) and male patients. Well-established local risk factors for injury and death include low socioeconomic status, urban residence, and poor access to emergency care.

Communities in and around Cape Town are hot spots for traumatic injuries stemming from high rates of poverty, decades of apartheid and racial and political oppression, and limited investment. While Cape Town has developed a robust emergency care system, the clinical needs significantly outweigh the available resources in both materials and clinical resources as well as trained physicians. Tygerberg Hospital, situated on the outskirts of Cape Town, is a key facility in the local trauma network as it receives thousands of acutely injured patients from local communities as well as referred patients from across the region.

I have a passion for global emergency care with a particular interest in southern Africa. I spent much of my childhood in sub-Saharan Africa and am dedicated to working in the region to strengthen emergency systems. I have previously worked with communities in Zambia and Malawi, partnering with them on capacity building and research, and am seeking to expand to direct clinical care and clinical training.

Expected Impact

I have several goals in pursuing this medical service. First and foremost, I hope to provide competent, compassionate care to the patients I treat. I seek to learn from expert South African clinicians on how best to manage both individual trauma injuries and patients as well as a busy resuscitation area. Specifically, I hope to glean best practices that might differ from how we manage such scenarios in the Northeast United States, informing my further care and my abilities to operate in diverse environments. I hope to make connections with local providers, setting the stage for further long-term collaboration and projects. Finally, I seek to further my skills in and passion for global health and international emergency care.

Trip Photos & Recap

Between March and April 2024, I worked at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa as part of the hospital’s emergency trauma team. Together with a remarkable group of physicians and nurses, I cared for patients with both blunt and penetrating trauma.

There were serious challenges in addressing both the volume and acuity of trauma patients and I am so thankful for the guidance provided by my local colleagues who so deftly manage these challenges on a daily basis.

I am grateful to Doximity for helping to support my work.