National Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize hails new Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital as a shining example of NHI at work

20 October 2019

National Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is so impressed with the nearly-complete Dr Pixley KaIsaka Seme Memorial Hospital, in KwaMashu, north of Durban, that he believes it must be held up as a prototype for other hospitals that are to be built, as Government rolls out the revolutionary National Health Insurance (NHI) programme.

During a tour of the hospital on Friday, Dr Mkhize hailed the state-of-the-art 500-bed DPKISMH as a better-constructed health facility than some private hospitals.

“At long last, we’re nearing completion of the hospital. It’s very well-planned, well-structured, and the workmanship is good. It’s quite solid. It’s a hospital that’s been built with a very long future ahead of it, which I’m very impressed about. The flow of the patients, and the link with the latest technology in terms of triaging of patients, and security features, I’m very impressed with that... and also the accommodation on the softer side of issues... the layout of the wards, and how there are rooms for families to be comforted. Those are very important areas.”

The Minister said he was particularly pleased that patients and relatives will not have to worry about privacy and comfort.

“The size of the wards is what I’ve been looking forward to seeing. Today, you’re dealing with hospitals that are not the old type... where you had a ward with 80 patients and so on. However, these wards are as good as some of the upmarket private hospitals. There’s a limited number of people, which means comfort, and confidentiality, and that I think is the main feature here.”

Among its many unique features, DPKISMH is equipped with an MRI scan – a rarity among regional hospitals - and also has escalators, a water harvesting feature, and special windows that open in manner that makes them easy to clean, unlike many other hospitals.

“This hospital can compete with any of the private hospitals, and will do better than many of them. So, what we are seeing here is a design that’s been made to last for more than 100 years, where there’ll be no need for any tempering or changing of the structure, and the features of the hospital... I’ve been through to the kitchen, and seen the back-up generators in terms of electricity."

“All of these are important features of ensuring an efficient hospital. And it’s not so tall as a building, so people don’t have to go very high. If you have very sick patients, you don’t want them to be too far away from the ground floor in case you have to evacuate. So, I think largely, we’re now seeing a new generation of hospitals. The features inside... the digital technology that’s going to be used in imaging, and also the laboratories... it actually sets it up for an Ideal NHI hospital, where you have the most advanced construction, features, and technology. And therefore the ambiance in there is that which makes people feel that they’ve come in here to get well. I’m really hoping that we’re going to take this as a way to do many more hospitals into the future.”

The Minister said the location of the new hospital made it possible for real estate developers to establish residential properties and other business opportunities on adjacent land.

“I’m very impressed, and I’m looking forward to it being commissioned and opened, especially because the purpose has been changed from being a district to a regional hospital. It actually works in such a way that there will be people who will prefer to be treated here, rather than any other place, not because of anything other than the fact that its own features are attractive,” Dr Mkhize said.

KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu said the Minister’s visit was part of the launch of the Government’s district-based development model, whereby all ministers were expected to conduct inspections of various projects that government is implementing.

The MEC appealed for patience, saying that it was only just a matter of time before the hospital, now 98% complete, is open. She said the recruitment process would begin three months before the hospital opens – and that posts will be advertised only on the Department’s official website, and in reputable newspapers.

“We do understand that we might not be able to open the hospital as soon as we thought we would. Initially, the plan was that the hospital was going to be commissioned and handed over around November. However, there are a few things that still need to be sorted out. Of course, the hospital is 98% finished now, but there are things that still need to be corrected, and finished."

“We hope at the beginning of 2020 we will be able to open the hospital. We have been very ambitious and excited as the Department to hand over the hospital because it’s the first of its kind in many ways, and talks to the NHI model. We’re excited because it gives credence to our pronouncements about NHI. It also says to the people that are doomsayers in relation to NHI that this is the model that we’re going to implement.”

MEC Simelane-Zulu said the Department would give another progress report on the hospital in January 2020, where “we’ll then be talking to the community to indicate how far we’ve gone.”

“As soon as we have a clear indication of when the hospital will be open, we will then start advertising for the posts because there’s a lot of training that people will have to undergo.”

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This page last edited on 26 November, 2019

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