Transnet Phelophepa Healthcare Trains
Pressure Die Casting Clinic Installation
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Veterinary Clinic – Phalaborwa
Comments by Dr Sampie Ras, Veterinarian, Ras SJ and Scheepers Veterinary Practice, Phalaborwa
“We installed an antimicrobial copper table in our surgery, which gives us great comfort as it has the ability to significantly reduce bacteria. It is that ‘one step further’ than just using disinfectants to ensure the health of the animals we treat, especially as the table is used for both operations and standard vaccinations.
“Some of the surgeries we perform at the clinic take more than an hour, so it is of added value that the antibacterial action of antimicrobial copper continuously disinfects the area under the patient. This is something that was not previously possible.
“In addition, our clinic now has copper covered many other touch surfaces, such as all light switches, the vaccine fridge door handle, the disinfectant bottles, the operation light handles and operation table handles. All of this adds to the protection of our animals.”
Dental Clinic – Johannesburg
Comments by Dr Anton Scheepers, Maxillo-Facial and Oral Surgeon, Alberton, Johannesburg
“Learning that sepsis is the main cause of dental implant failure and a fair number of complications encountered, especially in a surgical/ implant orientated dental practice, convinced me that the installation of copper touch surfaces would be beneficial to add to the already high level of aseptic and sterility protocol in my practice.
“We recently had strategically installed copper work surfaces and instrument trays, and are thrilled with these antimicrobial surfaces, which are also very aesthetically pleasing – an added bonus. I have recommended the benefits of antimicrobial copper to my brother-in-law, who is a veterinarian in Tshwane, as well as to inquisitive fellow colleagues at the hospital.”
Maphutha Malatji and Mashishimale Clinic
In 2011 the Maphutha Malatji hospital renovations were nearing completion in Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province. Recognising that poor health has an extensive impact on employment and education, the Palabora Foundation, the social arm of the Palabora Mining Company, decided to implement a far reaching community health programme with the construction of a new clinic, through a partnership between them and the Limpopo Department of Health and Social Development (LDoH & Soc. Dev.) at the Mashishimale village in the Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality.
The antimicrobial properties of copper and its ability to naturally kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection on touch surfaces had long been proven by the International Copper Association, so the Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) approached the LDoH & Soc. Dev. to pilot the use of antimicrobial copper surfaces in the Maphutha Malatji hospital’s theatre, where they assisted with the identification of vulnerable areas and subsequently installed antimicrobial copper products. Based on this pilot, the Palabora Foundation then worked with the CDAA and the LDoH & Soc. Dev to extend the installation of antimicrobial surfaces in the upcoming Mashishimale village clinic, which was accomplished through this public private partnership.
CDAA members Copalcor, Cobra, and Copper Tubing Africa manufactured and supplied the products, which are still in place and continuously fighting and preventing the spread of infection. The installation included touch surface items such as IV stands, wash basins, light switches, waiting room and toilet seats, laundry shelves, door handles and push plates.
It is an accepted fact that hand washing campaigns aimed at healthcare workers are not enough, but the addition of antimicrobial copper helps to reduce infections by up to 80%. No other material, such as stainless steel, melamine or glass, even comes close to being this effective.
Cleaning protocols were put in place at both facilities, and the cleaners were trained in the correct cleaning of copper, which does not affect the natural ability of copper to kill germs, but does keep the copper bright and shiny.
Natural copper was used at both facilities but there are hundreds of different antimicrobial copper alloys available, in a wide range of colours, to suit any architect’s design.
The CDAA continuously develops new antimicrobial products to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs).
Palabora Foundation assists local communities
The Palabora Foundation, the social arm of the Palabora Mining Company, has addressed concerns raised in recent years about the potential for bacteria from marula nuts being transferred to oil extracted during the cracking process. Using a novel solution, based on its experience at the local Maphutha Malatji Hospital, the Foundation is using antimicrobial copper to assist in this procedure.
In 2011, the Foundation established five cooperatives in rural Phalaborwa in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. These cooperatives were tasked with collecting the abundant marula fruit crop for making traditional beer, and the marula nuts from which valuable oil is extracted. The oil extracted from the marula nuts is used to supply the cosmetics industry.
During the summer months, the fruit of the marula tree is used to produce a traditional beer, but during the rest of the year the cooperative members crack the marula nuts to expose the kernel, which is then pressed to produce the precious oil. This is traditionally done by holding the nut on a rock and hitting it with a stone to remove the hard outer shell of the nut and reveal the kernel. This method is labour intensive and causes a large number of hand injuries every year.
Copper – an inherently antimicrobial material capable of rapidly and completely killing harmful pathogens on contact – is already being used in healthcare facilities around the world in the form of touch surfaces such as taps, door handles, counters and trolleys. At the Maphutha Malatji Hospital in Phalaborwa, antimicrobial copper door handles, push plates, shelves, basins and taps were installed in 2011 as an additional infection control measure to help reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections.
Copper shares its antimicrobial efficacy with many commonly-used alloys including brasses and bronzes, and these offer hard-wearing surfaces in a range of colours that continuously reduce surface contamination. Brass is made when copper is combined with zinc, and has comparable yield strengths to low alloy steels, some stainless steels and some aluminium alloys.
The five cooperatives have begun to use brass topped tables during the cracking stage, where machines remove the hard outer shell of the nut to expose the kernel. This has already resulted in an increase in production and a decrease in debilitating hand injuries.
Marula oil has tremendous anti-aging, skin hydration and medical benefits that make it very valuable to the cosmetics industry. Given the antimicrobial properties of this copper alloy, these brass topped surfaces will reduce the transfer of bacteria, ensuring that the oil is free from undesirable elements.