Three of Wollongong Hospital’s new specialists (from left) Dr Shivakumar Hampasagar, Dr Rebecca Jack and Dr Fred Nouh are among 20 new visiting medical officers working in the Illawarra. Picture: ANDY ZAKELITalking to a conscious patient during brain surgery has been a career highlight for new Wollongong Hospital visiting medical officer Dr Shivakumar Hampasagar.
Dr Hampasagar is one of 20 new VMOs at the hospital representing the fresh face of medical specialists in the Illawarra.
He was delighted to get a position in the hospital’s anaesthetics department.
“The highlight has been assisting in an awake craniotomy earlier this year, which was the first time it had been done at Wollongong Hospital,” he said.
“We couldn’t put the patient [under full general anaesthetic] because of the location of the brain tumour so we used regional anaesthesia and sedation which enabled her to speak to us throughout the four-and-a-half-hour operation.”
Another of the hospital’s new VMOs, vascular surgeon Dr Rebecca Jack, hopes to put her training in robotic surgery to use at Wollongong in the future.
Dr Jack is one of a small number of female vascular surgeons in NSW and is proud to work in the traditionally male-dominated area.
“I am fortunate that there are now two female surgeons in the vascular unit, including Dr Laurencia Villalba,” she said.
“I spent a year at Wollongong Hospital as part of my training in 2009 and am thrilled to be back working with the head of the unit, Dr David Huber, who has created a progressive unit incorporating state-of-the-art technology.
“I’ve recently done a course in robotic surgery in Prague and am excited about the possibilities.”
Meantime, new orthopaedic surgeon Dr Fred Nouh believes his training in the latest techniques in hip and knee replacements will be of great value to the region’s elderly residents.
Dr Nouh also enjoys the variety of work within his specialisation.
“There’s a mix of patients – from elderly patients who need a hip replacement after falls or due to arthritis, to younger people who’ve suffered sports injuries or been involved in motor vehicle accidents.”
The hospital’s director of clinical services, Dr Raghu Murthy, said getting the right combination of specialist staff was vital, with Wollongong to be a central hub for the region’s health services.
“We’ve clearly undertaken a major capital works program with a focus on surgical services, and it’s important to continue to build our workforce,” he said.
“In any organisation it’s appropriate to have younger, and more experienced staff – getting that balance of people with experience and people with new ideas is vital.
“We go through the process of appointing VMOs every five years and the majority of people are reappointed, but a small number retire and that provides us with the opportunity to review services and make changes and bring in younger people.”
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