History of Richmond Hospital

Richmond Hospital was originally the Drakensburg Boys College before it moved to Nottingham Road. In 1963 Smith and Mitchell organization bought and owned the building and it started operating as a hospital in 1964. Mr. R. Oats was the Superintendent of the hospital. During the first intake, the government allowed the Smith & Mitchell organization to run TB patients on their behalf. The first license that they received from the Natal Provincial Administration (N.P.A) was to treat 120 TB patients. The license was increased to 280 patients and they were also granted to treat 60 children which made the total of 340 patients treated.

During the intake, when the N.P.A inspected the hospital, they discovered that the number of patients has exceeded to 350 but however they said that the company must continue with 350 patients. By the time of granting the license, the Smith & Mitchell organization was only allowed to admit patients from local areas namely; Richmond, Pietermaritzburg, Bulwer and Umkhambathini and thereafter they were given a renewed license to admit patients from Umzinto, Ixopo and Port Shepstone which was later converted. Due to the effective treatment of patients, the company was also allowed to treat patients from Ladysmith. The agreement between the N.P.A. and the Smith & Mitchell organization was that when the patients are/ were discharged, they had to be given a rail warrant (forms which were obtained from the Richmond Magistrate office) in order to go to the station, fetch a ticket and take a train home.

Former Richmond Hospital Manager: Mr. David Makhathini explaining about Richmond hospital history during the interview: In terms of remuneration for the staff, the Finance Manager Mr. Kupaman of Smith & Mitchell organization used to arrive with money in the bag from Johannesburg and sleep in one of the hospital rooms, he put the money in envelopes for salaries of all staff. In1982 the capacity for patients increased to 500 and the tariff was reviewed and expanded to accommodate 500 patients. By that time there were two doctors; Dr. Mathews and Dr. Brownby. Mr. Makhathini joined Richmond Hospital as an Assistant Manager in 1986 and there were four Doctors who were operating namely; Dr. Matthews, Croon, Smith and Narrain.

Smith & Mitchell organization was changed to Life Care Specialized Health Services in1988 because it did not have an accurate name suitable for health services it offered. In 1988 the Children’s ward, dining hall for patients and TB Clinic was built in order to improve the conditions of the hospital. The nurses’ home was also built in 1988 but before it was built, nurses used to stay in cottages behind the hospital. Ward A1 and ward A3 were built in 1989. In 1990 the big house that was the nurses’ home was converted to a training residence for staff and flat roof houses with arches were built. The very old nurses’ home was a hall and it was then divided into individual rooms for privacy purposes. In that sense more bathing facilities were created as well as the big lounge and television. Basically everything was furnished.

In 1998 the new kitchen was built for R950-000 and R150 000 was spent for equipment and administration offices were also extended in 1998. Due to the impact or affects of HIV and AIDS, there was a need for antiretroviral treatment for patients and the ARV Clinic was formed in 2004. Also, in 2004 the company was taken over by Life Health Care; a body to Afrox Health Care and there after the name changed to Life Esidimeni; a Xhosa word meaning “Life in Dignity”. The mother hospital for Richmond hospital was Compton hospital and thereafter the government health department took over the hospital in 01 September 2006. In terms of this remarkable history, one can say that it is such an honour and a privilege to learn the fundamental role that previous officials played in the development and growth of health institutions. Together with other former Managers and Officials; Mr. Makhathini is one of the legends who really made a huge contribution in making a good name for Richmond Hospital from the past days until present.

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This page last edited on 17 July, 2023

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