Cape Town - After squabbles over funding and several construction glitches, including a fire that engulfed its trauma unit, the Mitchells Plain Hospital has formally opened its doors.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille described the R600 million hospital as a world-class facility with spectacular architecture.
Not only did the hospital boast all-electronic records, but Zille also commended its designers and landscapers who turned it into one of the greenest buildings in the country.
Zille was among dignitaries including mayor Patricia de Lille, Health MEC Theuns Botha and Finance, Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde, who officiated the opening of the 230-bed hospital.
The hospital has landscaped fynbos grounds, artworks and murals, a large trauma unit, 60 medical beds, 60 surgical beds, 60 obstetric and 30 paediatric beds. It is hoped that it will reshape health services in the greater Mitchells Plain area and provide an important link with surrounding townships including Phumlani, Mandalay, Browns Farm in Philippi and Crossroads.
Its location on a busy transport route - on AZ Berman Drive behind Lentegeur Hospital - means it is accessible.
Botha said the hospital, which was originally promised to the people of Mitchells Plain in 1994, had brought the number of beds serving the Cape Flats from about 400 in 2009 to 600 today.
The hospital would also address the imbalances created by apartheid, an era characterised by disinvestment in disadvantaged communities.
Botha called on residents to take pride in the hospital, saying it could contribute towards sustainability.
“The focus should remain on the fact that a hospital, long overdue, is being provided for the Mitchells Plain and Philippi communities as the primary purpose. This does provide opportunities for business and employment, but these should not divert attention from the big achievement of having a world-class hospital on your doorstep.”
Nosibele Ntisinago of Philippi, who was admitted to the hospital with tuberculosis of the bone, said the services were excellent.
“When I was admitted here I couldn’t even walk on my own because of lower back pain, but today I feel so well I can even go to the shower on my own. The nurses here are also not as grumpy as they usually are,” Ntisinago said.
Since building began in 2009 it provided more than 5 600 job opportunities to locals, the majority for young people.
Work worth almost R300m was provided by emerging businesses, of which work worth R17m was provided by women-owned businesses.
But construction did not come easy. Building began a year late following cash flow problems arising from “misalignment of funds” in the hospital revitalisation programme. This led to political squabbles in the province when the DA took over the provincial government from the ANC in 2009.
In 2011, construction came to a halt and the site was closed for weeks after protesters from surrounding townships invaded it, demanding jobs for locals. Last year there were further delays when the emergency section was destroyed in a fire.
The trauma unit, which was almost complete when the fire broke out, was extensively damaged.