Durban - What’s in a name? As it turns out, everything, for those involved in an ambitious R350 million plan to restore a Durban landmark building - the KZN Children’s Hospital - to its former glory.
The naming rights for the clock and bell towers of the once dilapidated building near Addington Beach were up for grabs for R7m, with options to also name consulting rooms, clinics, wards and buildings, said Dr Arthi Ramkissoon, the hospital trust’s chief executive.
About R350m is needed to complete the refurbishment of the 83-year-old landmark, whose supporters are hoping the naming rights – and annual fund-raising dinners – will bring in much-needed funds.
At R50 000 a table or R5 000 a person, the first of their fund-raising dinners will be held this evening in a marquee under the bell tower.
Diners will have the opportunity to pose questions to guest of honour, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Speaking to the Daily News on Thursday night, Ramkissoon said the reserve price for naming of the bell tower was R5m and R2m for the clock tower.
Both structures are part of the original hospital.
The hospital opened in 1931, servicing children of all races from all over KwaZulu-Natal.
But it sat unused for almost 30 years after it was shut by the apartheid government.
The four buildings could not be demolished because of their heritage status. Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced in 2010 the hospital would be revived.
Nick Meyerowitz, the contracts manager for the restoration work, said they had kept the external façade, but replaced the roof and windows to exactly match the previous structure.
“It has been challenging because we don’t have artisans now who can do the work like it was done then,” he said. The focus had now shifted to the nurses’ quarters, which Ramkissoon said would accommodate parents of children admitted at the hospital, caregivers and volunteers.
One more heritage building would be restored and others built to house wards and theatres since the old building was not suitable for this, she said.
Work on the interior would begin once funds had been raised.
Glass corridors would connect all the buildings, including the one for outpatients that was opened last year, said Ramkissoon.
There was also a plan to build a two-level parking lot underground.
R60m had been spent on work so far and Ramkissoon has urged people to make donations.
“If one million people donated R100 per month, we would finish and open the hospital to KZN’s three million children.”
She’s hoping some of the money needed will come from donated items that will be auctioned at Friday evening’s dinner.
The most coveted item is a special edition signed copy of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.