Cape Town - The R1 billion redevelopment of Valkenberg Hospital will include mostly single-storey buildings because of the shortage of staff available to deal with psychiatric patients.
Work can start on the hospital refurbishment as the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning has granted environmental authorisation for the listed activities.
In its decision, the department said: “Dealing with psychiatric patients in double storey-buildings is not possible due to the staff-patient ratio required. This is not a reality in the South African context, hence the proposed one-storey building designs.”
The development, which has been scheduled for completion in July 2016, will ensure that patients awaiting mental observation - such as teenager Kyle Maspero, who was accused of murdering his girlfriend’s mother - would not have to wait nine months or longer for a bed.
At the end of June, Maspero was number 130 on a waiting list of 158.
The provincial Health Department said that of the 360 beds in the current hospital, 125 were for forensic cases, of which 20 were used by patients who had been reserved by the courts for observation.
The new development will comprise four precincts and will provide at least 90 extra beds.
There will be a public and administrative precinct, and the acute and rehabilitation precinct will include an intensive care unit and an occupational therapy unit.
The forensic precinct will include a maximum security unit and a clinic and occupational therapy unit.
The department’s authorisation report noted: “The existing hospital currently does not have the capacity to assess awaiting trial persons who have committed serious crimes. This has a knock-on effect in that it causes delays in the judicial processes.”
Furthermore, the poor design, obsolete buildings and increased patient demand meant that the hospital was “unable to operate as a modern health-care facility”.
The development would include the demolition of old buildings, while historical structures would be retained.
In its authorisation, the department noted that the development would have negative and positive impacts.
While it would create temporary disruptions to the operation of the hospital and there would be noise and dust hindrances during construction, the development would provide an improved and more efficient health facility.
The mega-development of the Two Rivers Urban Park, that would include 20 000 mixed-use residential units and an urban park, was still in the conceptual planning stage and has a roll-out time frame of about 20 years.
The massive site includes the SA Astronomical Observatory, the Maitland Garden Village, the Mowbray Golf Course; Valkenberg East and the Oude Molen Village, as well as the site of the decommissioned Athlone Power Station.