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PASSING OF PROF D.J.V. WEICH

Posted: 2021-12-16 16:21

Prof D.J.V. Weich MB ChB (Stellenbosch), M Med (UFS), DM(UFS) FRCP (London)
FACCP (America)
19/12/1940 – 29/11/2021

Prof Dirk Weich

Professor Dirk Johannes Visser Weich qualified as a medical doctor in 1958 from the University of Stellenbosch. After graduating, he started his medical career as a general practitioner in Barkley East. In 1967 he enrolled as a medical officer at Tshilidzini Mission Hospital. Thereafter he spend the time of 1968-1969 as a general practitioner in Malmesbury. He decided in 1970 to come to the newly established Medical Faculty of the University of the Free State as a registrar in Internal Medicine. In 1973 Prof Weich was one of the first 4 M.Med. students from the Medical Faculty who were successful in their exams.

After completing his studies Prof Weich joined Department Internal Medicine where he developed a keen interest in pulmonology. In 1975 he went to the pulmonology unit in Midhurst England to further his knowledge and clinical skills in Pulmonology. After his return the Division Pulmonology soon became one of the most renowned units of respiratory care in South Africa.

After the retirement of Prof D Meyer as head of Department Internal Medicine Prof D Weich was appointed as head of the department in 1981.

In the nineties Prof Weich started a geriatric medicine service with outreach to many of the old age homes in the Mangaung area. When Prof Weich retired as head of the department in 1998 he remained in the department to service underprivileged communities with his interest in geriatric medicine. He identified the need for a place of safety for the needy aged population in Mangaung, which led to the renovation of a suitable building, and with the support of the UFS it was converted it into the Omega Old Age Home. This project was an important outreach project of Department Internal Medicine in collaboration with the UFS and was a sought after training platform for both undergraduate- and postgraduate students. When funds dried up Department Internal Medicine sadly had to cease their involvement in the running of Omega Old Age Home. Under his guidance the Boikutso Old Age Home was also established and in 1991 he was honored by the Mangaung Society for the Care of the Aged with a symbolic blanket, traditional Basotho hat and walking stick.

In 1995 Prof Weich worked for a year as a senior consultant in geriatric medicine at St Mary’s Hospital, Boston, England.

After his retirement in 1998 as Head of Department Internal Medicine he moved to England in 2001 and was appointed as senior specialist and head of geriatric medicine in Newport, Isle of Wight, England until 2006.

 On his return from England in 2007 he started private practice in Somerset West and remained active in the practice until 2017.

Prof. Weich was a keen researcher, published widely, and supported many post-graduate students with dissertations from honors- to doctorate level.

During his time as head of the Department Internal Medicine Prof Weich endeavored to improve cooperation especially between the English speaking Medical Universities in South Africa and the South African Colleges of Medicine to further medical education in Southern Africa. He was also instrumental in the hosting of the first South African Colleges of Medicine examinations in Bloemfontein in 1986. Under his leadership and vision Department Internal Medicine was a trendsetter in the training of registrars from all population groups from early on.

Prof Weich greatest passion was teaching. He was an astute clinician and many of us still remember his clinical skills and the emphasis he placed on the time with the patient to elicit all the aspects of the history and clinical signs. As a doctor, he treated all patients with dignity and respect. He will be remembered for the after-hours pulmonology clinic, which he started to allow patients who had trouble during normal working hours to come to the hospital to attend the pulmonology clinic. On many occasions, the clinic was still going on after 22h30 with Prof Weich still attending to his patients.

Prof Weich never lost his passion for general medicine and was in charge of the Monday firm for Department Internal Medicine at Pelonomi Hospital for many years. Due to his empathy for the plight of patients coming from far away, he campaigned for equal facilities at Pelonomi Hospital. He in fact stated that Pelonomi Hospital must have better facilities than Universitas Hospital to allow patients to be diagnosed and treated with the least inconvenience to them and their families. To achieve this he was instrumental in the planning and running of a designated outpatient facility at Pelonomi Hospital so that his vision of a one-stop clinic with all the facilities housed in one building could became a reality. . The finished outpatient complex was his pride and joy and he took great pleasure in taking visitors to Pelonomi Hospital to show off the services rendered at the outpatient complex.

The following words from someone who trained and served under Prof Weich as an undergraduate student, intern, registrar and consultant summarizes the legacy of Prof Dirk Weich perfectly: “As the head of the Internal Medicine department at the FS medical school, he made a huge impact on many registrars and medical students. His devotion and long hours spent on training and grooming of students will never be forgotten.  He convey the knowledge of medicine next to the bedside, and more important, he also taught us the art of medicine and the passion of medicine. His special efforts to improve elderly people’s health and circumstances across all ethnic groups will be one of his special legacies that he left behind.”

The Department of Internal Medicine honors his legacy as an excellent teacher, an astute clinician and a renowned researcher for his mentorship and example as the epitome of a caring physician.

The Department of Internal Medicine, the School of Clinical Medicine and the Faculty of Health Sciences would like to offer their deepest condolences to Margot, Helmuth, Stephan, Dirk, Sarietjie and all his friends with their loss.

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