6 years worth the wait for new Soweto hospital

2014-04-27 06:00

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Cynthia Mbekwa could not believe her eyes when she regained consciousness on Wednesday night after fainting and hitting her head on the ground while shopping at the Jabulani Mall in Soweto.

The mother of two had an intravenous drip inserted into her right arm. She looked around and noticed there were other people sleeping in the five beds around her. Still trying to figure out where she was, she remembered how she had felt dizzy and collapsed while shopping. It dawned on her that she must be at a hospital.

But what confused her was that this hospital looked different from the other public hospitals she had been admitted to in the past. This one was very clean, the empty beds were neatly made and everybody was covered in cream blankets.

The nagging pain at the back of head brought her back to reality. She shouted for help and a nurse wearing a navy and white uniform walked into the ward and asked her politely what the matter was.

“It is the first time in my life to hear a nurse asking me politely what is wrong and assure me that I was in safe hands. I have spent days in three hospitals around Gauteng and not once can I remember being treated like a fellow human being and not just another patient,” she said.

Mbekwa (50) is among the fortunate 20 people who were admitted to the newly built Zola-Jabulani Hospital in Soweto this week. The hospital has not yet officially opened.

It is expected to be opened by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday. However, patients are already being treated.

The first patient was a man who had crashed his car a few metres from the 300-bed facility. He sustained minor injuries and was discharged the same day.

Mbekwa, like many people who live in the southern parts of Soweto, have long waited for the Zola-Jabulani Hospital to start operating because it will save them time and money because they don’t have to travel to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Diepkloof and spend hours in the queues.

Zola-Jabulani was supposed to open in 2008. However, tender irregularities and budget overruns because of cancelled contracts, shoddy workmanship, which led to the redesign of the pharmacy and maternity ward, and the non-payment of contractors delayed the unofficial opening until Monday last week.

Hospital chief executive Ruth Mabyana said although it had taken a long time for the hospital to start operating, it was worth the wait. “This is a state of the art facility,” she said.

“Patients can be assured that when they come to us they will receive quality healthcare. We will offer the kind of service that would make them want to come back to us again and again,” she added.

Mabyana’s last job was at WF Knobel Hospital in Limpopo, which fared poorly in the National Health Facilities Baseline Audit conducted by the department of health in 2011.

But Mabyana has promised her new hospital’s prospective patients that Zola-Jabulani will measure up when it comes to cleanliness, staff attitude, infection control, waiting times, patient safety and drug availability.

“I can promise Soweto residents that they will receive quality healthcare at our facility. We will give the kind of service that would make them want to come back to us again and again.”

On Thursday, Mbekwa said she was impressed with the service and would definitely return to the hospital if there was a need.

She even compared the facility to the Brenthurst Clinic private hospital in Parktown, Joburg, where she once visited an ill friend.

“Zola-Jabulani has all the makings of a private hospital. It is clean, beautiful, the staff has a caring attitude and the food is good,” Mbekwa added.

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