“We try to treat patients only with minimally invasive techniques”, says Paulo Sousa, Medical Director of the Hospital Particular do Algarve – Gambelas and General Surgeon with many years’ experience. Nowadays Dr. Paulo Sousa performs between 400 and 500 surgeries annually. He also admits to being probably one of the doctors with the most widespread phone number in the Algarve.
Besides being a Medical Director of Gambelas Hospital, Dr Paulo Sousa, has dedicated his life to improving his surgical skills, always with a view to relieve suffering and pain while improving results. “I have a special interest in the area of oncology. I work a lot in surgical oncology – cancer of the intestines, stomach, and oesophagus, using minimally invasive techniques to cause the least damage for the patient”.
In addition to surgical oncology, Dr. Paulo Sousa is also a specialist in proctology. Proctology is a surgical sub-specialty dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant diseases of the anal canal and of the perianal region. Unfortunately, there are still many people who suffer from these diseases in silence, mainly due to fear that treatment might be even more painful. However, “there are fantastic solutions to treat these diseases! Nowadays we have minimally aggressive techniques that can be used and the recovery is much easier for the patient”, said the doctor, who has more than 20 years’ experience treating these diseases.
What does minimally invasive surgery consist of?
As doctor Paulo Sousa referred, Laparoscopic Surgery is a minimally invasive modern surgical method which uses a video camera and only small holes in the patient’s belly, consisting of two small incisions of 5 millimetres each, to ensure the least possible damage. The name laparoscopic surgery comes from the word laparoscope, a slender tool containing a tiny video camera. This instrument is inserted by the surgeon through a small cut in the patient’s body and transmits onto a video monitor which is observed by the surgeon. Without those instruments, a large incision would have to be made. Thanks to these sophisticated special instruments, this method is very different from the traditional procedure, where the surgeon needed to make a larger incision, thus resulting in a longer and more painful recovery period.
“We have managed to do almost all procedures, including the most complex ones (in the area of oncology, heart surgery, thoracic surgery and much more) using this procedure which is less invasive, causes less pain, with a much faster recovery, even in older people, who are often very much afraid of new procedures. The truth is, that with this procedure we have a reduced mortality rate, that is, the injuries and the need for additional surgical procedures as was previously the case, are much less and patients experience a much quicker recovery”, explains the doctor.
Additionally: “These surgeries allow people to return to work earlier, they can begin their personal daily activities much more quickly. Nowadays with laparoscopic surgery as an option, patients are able to return to work within a week and a half, with only some limitations in terms of effort. Some golfers are playing golf two weeks after a hernia operation.”
Dr. Paulo Sousa performs 400 to 500 surgeries per year. In his opinion “to reach a certain level of excellence we have to work harder and regularly - with more experience comes better performance. We can have great doctors, but if they only perform a few surgeries in a specific area, they will never have the same degree of excellence as a doctor who does the same procedure regularly”.
However, technical capacity is not everything and Dr. Paulo Sousa highlights the importance of having a good patient-doctor relationship. “There is the whole aspect of follow-up, and personal relationships that I believe very much. I need to be as close and transparent as possible with the patient. I think that the patient-doctor relationship is a decisive aspect of clinical practice. Most of my patients have my contact, my mobile phone number might be the medical contact most spread in the region because I give my personal contact to everyone and I am always available to help and support those who need me. For me, this is the most important part of a doctor’s clinical practice, to be able to maintain this close relationship with patients. Unfortunately, even after surgery people have doubts and sometimes, they are very simple doubts and just talking about the problem with their doctor helps to eliminate many doubts and a lot of anxiety that results from all the process of undergoing surgery, which is sometimes not easy”.
Health Care has never stopped during the pandemic
During the pandemic, approximately 700 doctors who work at HPA Health Group have continued to provide the best possible healthcare daily. According to the doctor, the HPA Health Group has many specialties working “24 hours a day, 365 days a year”, from 24 Hour Emergency Services in both hospitals - Alvor and Gambelas; Paediatric Emergency Care in Gambelas; Maternity Unit also operating 24 hours a day in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department in Gambelas, Intervention Cardiology Unit that also operates 24 hours in Alvor; Emergency Surgery operating 24 hours a day.
In order to safeguard the protection of health professionals and patients, the HPA Health Group has since the beginning of the pandemic, created monitoring plans to avoid people with COVID-19 symptoms coming into contact with other patients who do not have these symptoms. “This has worked well, because almost one year after the pandemic we have no infected patients in our units and a very low percentage of infected health professionals”, he said.
HPA is still continuing with its normal services while at the same time monitoring procedures also continue. Nothing has stopped with the pandemic! On the contrary, the HPA Health Group has been working hard to improve and enlarge their facilities in order to provided additional medical care for its patients. “We are currently expanding the Gambelas Unit; we built on an additional wing at the Gambelas Hospital with the main goal of improving the services provided by our Out-Patient Consultation and Exams Unit”, he said.
In addition, the HPA Health Group will soon be opening another hospital, this time in the coastal region of the Alentejo, which has been growing as a tourist destination. “We are hopeful that the new hospital in Sines will be open sometime this year. It will be an average size hospital, with 20 hospital beds and 6 Operating Theatres”, concluded the doctor.