More than R40-million has been set aside by the provincial health department to upgrade the dilapidated Cofimvaba Hospital, which celebrated its 30th birthday this week.
In this financial year, the department will spend more than R17.5-million on renovations to the hospital, with R800000 going towards fencing.
A further R25-million will be allocated for a second phase of refurbishments, including stemming the floods on rainy days. The plans form part of a province-wide initiative by the department to upgrade the most run-down hospitals across the Eastern Cape, said health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo.
Kupelo said under MEC Dr Phumza Dyantyi, the department had set aside more than R4.2-billion to upgrade and renovate provincial hospitals.
Initially there were plans to demolish dilapidated hospitals and rebuild them.
“However, we have now changed that strategy and are focusing on revamping these dilapidated hospitals.
“We have employed architects and are no longer dependent on external skills. We now have in-house people for all necessary skills for infrastructure developments.”
Speaking at the 30th anniversary event, Cofimvaba Hospital CEO Sicelo Msi this week said: “I am overjoyed because we have reached our goals of providing improved health care services to our people.”
He said one challenge at the hospital was that people no longer went to nearby clinics but came straight to the hospital in numbers, “causing an influx”.
Msi said his hospital had in recent years been affected by flooding in heavy storms in the area.
Kupelo said their focus in revamping the hospital would include upgrading or replacing roofing, plumbing and fencing.
These plans come just days after the department officially unveiled a statue of the first black South African nursing sister, Cecilia Makiwane, and celebrated a newly built, state-of-the-art section of the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane.
Speaking in Cofimvaba, Dyantyi said her department planned to prioritise upgrading and maintaining needy provincial hospitals in this financial year.
“We are going to build an isolation ward for people who have highly contagious diseases such as the MDR TB, upgrade the paediatric wards and build a visiting area,” she said.
The MEC commented that young doctors, especially those who had studied in Cuba, were often reluctant to work in rural hospitals in the province.
She said to counter this, her department had set aside R95-million towards accommodating hospital staff members all over the province.
Thieresia Jikithi has been a cleaner at the hospital since its establishment in 1987.
“I have seen a lot of improvements in this place, especially under the current leadership, but I would also like to see them employing more staff,” she said.
Intsika Yethu mayor Jongumzi Cengani said Cofimvaba Hospital had come a long way and had left an indelible mark in its community in 30 years. — firstname.lastname@example.org