Hospital to be rebuilt on new site

By Colleen Dardagan Time of article published Jun 6, 2012

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Despite an R87-million upgrade, Durban’s King Edward VIII hospital would be rebuilt but elsewhere, and the existing buildings downgraded to a public healthcare services hospital, officials said on Tuesday.

At the opening of the R20-million paediatrics centre at the hospital by sponsors BHP Billiton and Carte Blanche, KZN’s MEC for Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said the 70-year-old hospital was being fixed “here and there”, but would ultimately be downgraded from a training hospital to a community-based health-care facility.

The hospital’s chief executive officer Olaf Baloyi, said a team was busy looking at costs and a suitable site.

“Three years ago, it was already on the table. It was going to cost billions (of rand) then, but costs have escalated, so it would be conjecture to know the cost now. Nobody has a clue where it will be, but we expect it will be an 800- to 1200-bed facility.”

Baloyi said that, while the refurbishment of the old hospital’s main wing, which was reportedly infested with mosquitoes and rats, had been completed and about R22m in new equipment installed, he believed it was not wise to re-construct or spend more money on the buildings.

“King Edward VIII will continue to be a hospital for the next 150 years – the people within a 10km radius have no other hospital to go to. We are building a new kitchen, and the main wing was refurbished 18 months ago.”

He said the new site would be a fully-fledged tertiary hospital. Baloyi said the government had been “weak” in maintaining the old hospital, which was built on the site of one of King Shaka’s residences – KwaKhangela Amankengane – and first opened its doors in 1936.

“We are bringing new people into maintenance. Upkeep is a must – this is the thing we want to have,” he said.

Brightly lit and colourful, the new BHP Billiton/Carte Blanche centre replaces the hospital’s previous paediatric wing, which Baloyi said was beyond repair.

The hi-tech facility, which Carte Blanche’s George Mazarakis estimated was worth about R80m, provided ample space for doctor’s rooms and isolation wards, as well as comfortable and roomy waiting areas.

Mazarakis said previously doctors, nurses and patients were subjected to “appalling conditions”.

“But, we said, let’s stop finding fault and let’s see if we can fix it, and that’s what we have done.”

Referring to Georgina, the daughter of Karolina Andropoulos, patron of the Carte Blanche “Making a Difference Campaign”, who died four years ago due to inadequate medical help, Mazarakis said building sustainable medical facilities for children was a duty.

“The completion of this facility proves anything is possible if we stop wasting time.”

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