R20m boost in Chris Hani Baragwanath’s paediatric clinic gives parents a sigh of relief

The limited space at the Department of Paediatric Surgery at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg (Mpho Raborife, News24)
The limited space at the Department of Paediatric Surgery at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Johannesburg - Parents of children being treated at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital will no longer have to leave their children alone anymore.

A new paediatric surgery outpatient clinic would be built at the hospital.

The project was a result of a partnership between the Gauteng health department, local non-profit organization Surgeons for Little Lives, and pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The clinic would include a parental sleep-over facility, a first at the hospital.

“It hurts when I leave my child at the hospital,” 28-year-old mother Nikiwe Hlaba said of the current arrangements. She had to leave her son Olwethu alone on Wednesday shortly after he had an operation on his elbow.

“I arrive in the morning and I leave here in the evening,” Hlaba told News24 on Thursday as she sat next to her son’s bed, cradling the sleeping six-year-old.

“It would be great to have a place where we as the parents can sleep and be here for them. I can’t sleep when I get home because he is not near me and I worry about him.”

Olwethu fell and injured his elbow while playing with his friend in Emdeni, Soweto. It was not immediately clear when he would be discharged.

Hlaba said she would continue visiting her son daily until she could take him home.

No room for mistakes

Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said Chris Hani Baragwanath was known for providing good quality care.

“We want it to be the best hospital.”

She said it was heartening to see organisations collaborating with the public sector to improve the quality of health care services.

"This facility will not only benefit Gauteng citizens but the entire country, as the hospital gets referrals across the nation.”

She said health care was a sensitive sector and there was no room for mistakes.

"Every mistake we make is costly. That’s why we must have world class facilities, dedicated nurses, and doctors."

The hospital received around 1500 outpatients a month from surrounding provinces and other countries on the continent.

One such patient was four-month-old Ontlafetse Kole from Taung, North West.

Kole arrived at the hospital three days ago after being transferred to two different North West hospitals, which could not help her.

According to her mother Omphile, 21, the infant developed a swollen stomach and began bleeding a few weeks after birth.

She took her to a clinic in the area and was told to go to Taung hospital, where she stayed for five days before being transferred to Klerksdorp hospital, where she spent a day. She was then transferred to Chris Hani for an operation.

“I was hopeful when I was told that she would be taken care of here. Now I’m just waiting for her to get better so we can go home.”

The hospital had made provision for Kole and other mothers who came from far, to stay on the premises with their children.

Kole could not breastfeed her daughter during her illness. Since the operation she could do so again, which was helping her recovery.

She's happy

She said she was certain her presence was helping Ontlafetse’s healing.

“I see her smile and when she’s happy, she holds my hand,” Kole said.

“I want my child to be a nurse one day so that she can also help other sickly children like her one day.”

GSK had invested R20m into the clinic, which was designed by global private hospital group Mediclinic. It would be a two-level building catering for 2000 outpatients and 300 inpatients a month.

Both GSK and Surgeons for Little Lives promised to give patients the highest level of care, privacy and dignity, something the current clinic was struggling to do with the limited space it had. 

The clinic would cater to infants and children up to the age of 10, who needed surgery. It had committed to accepting all patients who came through its doors.

The hospital was expected to be built and completed by August 2017.

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