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New hospitals promise specialised care for children

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
With the renovation of the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Children’s Hospital proceeding well, South Africa is well on the way to getting its second specialised hospital for children.

All systems go: with phase one of the KwaZulu-Natal Children's hospital complete, specialised healthcare for children has become a reality. Picture: Mduduzi TshabanguThe reconstruction of the old outpatients building was completed in December 2012 and the referral of patients to the new section started in March 2013.

Situated on the Durban beachfront, the hospital was built in 1928 as the Addington Children’s Hospital dedicated to child and infant healthcare.

“In 1984, the hospital was closed by the apartheid government because it offered services to children of all races in an area of Durban reserved for white people. The hospital was closed for 28 years,” said KZN Health Member of Executive Council (MEC) Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

The hospital will be second children’s hospital in the country after the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital in Cape Town, which has been South Africa's only health institution dedicated to child health care.

Children from all provinces and from all over Africa are referred to the hospital by other hospitals, clinics and smaller hospitals, but this is all set to change when the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital starts operating.

The hospital will include a specialised paediatric outpatient clinic, short-stay wards, training and research facilities, care-giver and health provider accommodation, counselling and rehabilitation facilities.

The ground floor of the old outpatients building of the hospital houses a Child Neuro-Development Assessment Centre, an adolescent clinic, rehabilitation and psychosocial services. The centre also includes a comprehensive assessment, counselling and referral service to families with ‘high risk’ children and children with special needs including developmental disabilities and genetic syndromes. Rehabilitation and remedial services include speech and audiology screening and assessment, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, neuro-physiology testing audiologist assessments, and psychometric testing.

The path to renovation

The second phase of the renovations started in February and includes repairs to the roof and external façade. Picture: Mduduzi TshabanguThe KZN Department of Health and the KZN Children’s Hospital Trust started planning the renovation and re-establishment of the old Children’s Hospital, now renamed the KwaZulu-Natal Children’s Hospital, in 2009.

The hospital renovations are expected to take five years and cost between R250 and R300 million. The renovations are occurring in phases with the first phase completed in December 2012. Operations began in May 2013, Dhlomo explained. The hospital has seven buildings, four of which are heritage buildings.

The KZN Department of Health has pledged R50 million towards the overall infrastructure costs of renovating the Children’s Hospital and will also budget for the operational costs, including maintenance costs for the hospital. The KZN Children’s Hospital Trust has been established as a non-profit, public benefit entity for fundraising and project management of the re-establishment of the Children’s Hospital.

Renovations to the roof and external façade of the Old Children’s Hospital started in February and are continuing well. This work will include bulk services such as electricity, sewer and IT connections along with the repairs to the roof and external façade of the old nurses’ home building.

Finally, attention will shift to the hospital building, the old nurses’ home, the administration block central nurses home, the central museum and old dining hall as well as a playground for children of all abilities.

The KZN Department of Health is also refurbishing health infrastructure elsewhere in the province.

Last year the BHP paediatric centre of excellence was built within the surroundings of the King Edward Hospital in Durban with assistance from commodity company BHP Billiton. It consists of the intensive care unit, consulting services and staff facilities.

Mandela Children's Hospital

Meanwhile, the national Department of Health has entered into a partnership with the Nelson Mandela Hospital Trust and other private sector donors to build a state-of-the art children’s hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg. Construction of the Nelson Mandela Chidren’s Hospital, which is expected to be the biggest children’s hospital on the continent and serving the southern African region, is underway. The department will provide operational expenditure for the hospital.