After years of ailing infrastructure at East London’s Cecilia Makiwane Hospital, hope is on the horizon for the people of Mdantsane and those from surrounding areas as the Department of Health starts the commissioning phase for the main hospital.
Commissioning will begin today following six years of dogged construction on the multi-phased project, to overhaul the outdated hospital and create a modern, state-of-the-art facility geared for quality healthcare.
The project commissioning team was launched today, and is made up of representatives from the Department of Health, the hospital and key stakeholders including implementing agent, Port Elizabeth’s Coega Development Corporation (CDC). The team is led by the hospital chief executive, Dr Xamlashe and will oversee the commissioning process and effectively guide the process of getting the hospital functioning at an optimum level.
The commissioning phase essentially prepares the hospital for full functionality. Currently, construction is reaching completion at key nodes and this marks the start of a series of commissioning activities over the next two years.
The product of the construction process is an empty building shell. Without equipment, furniture and the required staff, the facility cannot function, the project team said.
“The purpose of the commissioning process is to phase out the old hospital and to manage the transition between the current moment and the future,” said Xamlashe.
Commissioning is split into seven areas:
- A change management programme;
- Purchase of healthcare technology;
- Organisational development and quality assurance for staff and human resources;
- Integrating information and communication technology;
- Logistics and establishment which focuses on preparing the new facility, installing equipment, relocating patients, and orientating staff;
- Hand-over and post-occupancy evaluation; and lastly
- Overall commissioning co-ordination.
Originally built in 1972, the original design of the hospital is reminiscent of an army barracks, with sprawling rows of wards which branch off from the main hospital spine.
“The layout of the existing facility does not lend itself easily to advances in modern medical technology. Staff constraints are a daily reality. These challenges overshadow the tireless efforts and contributions of the staff working at the facility,” said Pusetso Mabetoa CDC Health Planning and Commissioning Programme Manager.
The new facility is to include a regional hospital, psychiatric hospital, staff accommodation and a nursing college.
The CDC, which is overseeing the R1.8-billion infrastructure project, said a number of milestones had been achieved since construction started in 2007.
“In 2010 we completed the services block, followed by a portion of accommodation units for the nursing college in 2012,” said Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC head of marketing and communication.
“Construction on the main hospital complex commenced in 2011 and is due for final completion in July 2015 with commissioning of completed sections starting in tandem. The next phase is construction of a Psychiatric Hospital, which will commence in 2014.”
Vilakazi added the commissioning process will take approximately two years and the Mdantsane community would have an opportunity to participate in it through job opportunities and by contributing artwork for display in the facility.
Vilakazi said: “The Eastern Cape Department of Health projects are critically important to the province as they address serious shortfalls in health care facilities across the province and show the department’s commitment to delivering quality services from well-built and resourced facilities. We cannot underestimate the value of a healthy population for the socio-economic productivity of the region.”
The project has created 1 177 jobs in its initial phases and a further 1 200 jobs are anticipated to be created during the course of implementation of the main hospital.
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