Proposal to rename hospice in honour of Dr CN Pillay

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Judge Pillay’s suggestion has drawn strong support from community leaders although the hospice board of management has yet to deliberate on the matter.

Retired senior judge, Thumba Pillay has proposed that the 30-year-old Chatsworth Regional Hospice be renamed in honour of the brilliant surgeon and community worker, Dr CN Pillay, 90, who passed away a fortnight ago.

Judge Pillay’s suggestion has drawn strong support from community leaders although the hospice board of management has yet to deliberate on the matter.

“As someone, who knew Dr Pillay intimately over many decades, his simplicity, his passion for his profession, his love for humanity and his almost unparalleled community involvement set him apart as someone, who is deserving of greater recognition than he has thus far received,” said Judge Pillay.

It was Dr Pillay, who planted the seed for a hospice in 1991 when he was principal surgeon at the RK Khan Hospital.

Together with a group of senior nurses, medical officers, administrative staff and community-conscious individuals, the Chatsworth Regional Hospice was established to serve the needs of cancer patients in Chatsworth.

The hospice initially operated from two small rooms at the back of the RK Khan Hospital and was serviced by senior nursing staff, who commenced home-based care on a voluntary basis for patients during their off-duty times.

Later, vacant land was acquired in Silverglen and proper facilities were developed to provide services free of charge to cancer patients at all stages of the disease as well as those suffering from HIV/Aids.

Judge Pillay will motivate to the hospice board of management to consider renaming the hospice in Dr Pillay’s honour.

“I would go even further and suggest that the powers-that-be give serious thought to honouring him posthumously with a national award,” added Judge Pillay.

Prof Bhugwan Singh, the head of surgery at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, mentioned that Dr Pillay’s lifelong contribution to the development of public sector surgical services in Durban and his long-standing and diverse commitments to the wider community ‘positions him as a legend in our fraternity, he was the epitome of selflessness.’

Dr Pillay qualified as a doctor at the University of Witwatersrand in 1954, he was the first Black, in 1967, to obtain the Fellowship in Surgery (Edinburgh).

Following his service as surgeon at King Edward Hospital, he took appointment, in 1969, at the then recently-established RK Khan Hospital where he started the Department of Surgery single-handedly. This department, developed under Dr Pillay’s leadership, is arguably the most respected and effective department of surgery in the Durban metropolitan region.

“Dr Pillay’s attention to detail, meticulous planning, passion for patients’ rights and commitment to service were pivotal in ensuring the eminent status of surgical care at RK Khan Hospital, the standard set by this department became the benchmark for other surgical departments and units to emulate. Dr Pillay was never distracted by the lure of material benefit. He could have easily accumulated great personal wealth, his passion, however, was to serve the poor selflessly with compassion and an impeccable manner,” said Prof Singh.

He added that while the Chatsworth Regional Hospice has grown from strength to strength, Dr Pillay must be rightly seen as the face of this tremendous humanitarian effort.

Logan Reddy, a member of the hospice board of management, stated that he fully agreed with Judge Pillay’s proposal to rename the hospice after Dr Pillay.

“This is a fine way to respect the legacy left behind. I will take up the matter with the board,” he said.

Logan Naicker, a community worker from Kharwastan, explained that it would be a fitting tribute to name the hospice after Dr Pillay, who served with distinction as chairperson for 14 years before becoming honourary life president.

Kogie Singh, the president of Chatsworth Regional Hospice, shared that there was no doubt that Dr Pillay had given exemplary service to the hospice.

“While it is true that he initiated the idea for a hospice, several other figures including Dr PK Naidoo, superintendent of RK Khan Hospital, Rakooni Mannadiar, deputy director of administration, and BA Naidoo, a social work administrator of note, had worked relentlessly to bring the idea to fruition,” Singh said.

Since its opening, the hospice has depended totally on community benefactors to foot the monthly R250, 000 bill and patients do not have to pay a single cent.

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