Kids’ hospital for KZN

2010-07-16 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal is set to have a state-of-the-art children’s hospital after the Health Department announced the revamping of the old Addington Children’s Hospital at an estimated cost of R200 million in a public-private partnership.

The official launch of the restoration project was made at the shell of the hospital by MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo yesterday.

The restoration project is the brainchild of Friends of the Children, a group advocating better health for children. The group has since been absorbed by Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health (Match).

In June last year, Match presented the department with a prospectus detailing the idea of restoring the Durban beachfront hospital.

The department agreed and a task team consisting of multiple donor groups and diverse professionals was set up to initiate the project.

Dr Dhlomo said the hospital, first opened in 1931, will cater for the entire province and will offer rehabilitation programmes, in-patient services, a hospice and training and research programmes focused on child health issues.

Provisions have been made for private sector doctors to run clinics at the hospital.

Satellite offices for the departments of Education, Social Welfare and Home Affairs will provide services for children at the hospital.

The project will take about two-and-a-half years to complete and will be carried out in three phases: first the children’s hospital section, then the nurses’ home and finally the associated buildings.

“We strive for the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health for everyone without distinction of race, religion, and political belief, economic or social condition,” said Dhlomo.

“Health and wellbeing are an integral part of the child’s right to life, survival and development, and that calls for every roleplayer to be part of this historic project, to provide better healthcare for our children.”

 

During the 1970s and 80s, as a result of the prevailing politics of the time, the hospital closed its doors to children who were not white, and it was eventually closed completely in 1984.

The buildings have fallen into disrepair and have been inhabited by homeless people.

Richard Siedle, grandson of hospital founder Mary Siedle, said it felt great to see his grandmother’s dream being restored after so many years.

“Our main concern was that after all the hard work, the department would take over the facility once it is up and running.

“I was so pleased when Dr Dhlomo said this is a public-private partnership. There’s a potential for overseas doctors who are willing to provide their services voluntarily,” said Siedle.

Also at the launch was the hospital’s first black professional paediatric nurse, Valerie Jenkins, who said she is willing, though now retired, to lend a hand “because working with children has been part of my life since this hospital was established”.

The grand old buildings will not be demolished, but will be restored.

Architects and other service providers have already visited the site, which has been cordoned off and secured, a signal that the work is about to commence.

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