BY PATRICIA SIBANDA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
UNITED Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) acting chief executive officer Narcacius Dzvanga has revealed that the refurbishment of the city’s main COVID-19 facility was running behind schedule and it might not be ready for use by monthend as initially planned.
Dzvanga made the remarks on Friday when the inter-ministerial taskforce on COVID-19 visited the health facility to assess progress.
“We were targeting to open and admit our first patient by mid-October, but the engineers have written to us to say that they are unable to meet the deadline. Even up to the end of October we still remain hopeful that the west wing could start accommodating patients, maybe first of November but our wish was mid-October,” Dzvanga said.
“The project is about 95% complete, it’s a 112-bedded hospital, with intensive care beds and 16 or 18 beds, will be what we call high dependency units, then the remainder will be oxygen beds meaning that the patients, just require oxygen and good nursing care.
“We think by November 1 we could admit our first patient there, but at the moment we are lodging them somewhere on site and the numbers are very few. We get daily statistics.
“It’s our wish to see patients being admitted there in the purpose-built or designed unit ward.”
Dzvanga said they had modernised the ward by installing ventilation pipes and plugs on the verandas as a way of creating more space.
“This office can be turned into intensive care, you just need the oxygen pipe, the ventilator and the nursing staff only. That is why you might find the ICU (intensive care unit) and the HDU, it’s exactly the same types that you saw on the veranda,” he said.
“ICU is usually about ventilation, but the current trend internationally is that aggressive ventilation is said to be harmful so we are not pushing for most of the patients to be on ventilation.”
In a related development, the Joshua Nkomo Legacy Restoration Project (JNLRP) said the planned reopening of Ekusileni Medical Centre next month would go a long way in restoring the late Father Zimbabwe’s legacy.
Government has announced that Ekusileni, which has experienced several false starts since its closure in 2004, will be ready to admit patients in the next few weeks.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga toured the institution recently where he committed to ensure its operationalisation.
The National Social Security Authority (Nssa)-owned facility was converted into a COVID-19 treatment centre.
“As a foundation, we welcome talk that the government has set a date for Ekusileni reopening. We hope it is serious this time around as this is not only about Nkomo’s legacy but it is for the benefit of the people in this region and beyond,” JNLRP director Jabulani Hadebe said.
The JNLRP, founded and registered in 2018, seeks to promote and sustain Nkomo’s legacy.
“However, we feel there is no political will with regards to anything to do with the Joshua Nkomo legacy. It is a fact that his legacy is unparalleled, but we have people in positions of authority who will always want to downplay his contributions to this country.”
Ekusileni, the brainchild of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, was shut down in 2004 shortly after opening its doors to the public.
It was closed after it was discovered that equipment worth millions of dollars acquired by the Zimbabwean Health Care Trust and loaned to Nssa was obsolete.