Public-private hospital for Port Alfred

23 February 2009

The new Port Alfred Hospital, the result of a partnership between the Eastern Cape Department of Health and a private consortium consisting of Nalithemba Hospitals and Netcare, has opened its doors well ahead of schedule.

Present at the opening last week, Eastern Cape Health MEC Pemmy Majodina said the success of the private-public partnership model was a tribute to the power of participation and unity. As part of the deal, the private consortium will be responsible for managing both public and private facilities at the hospital for 15 years.

“I am both proud and delighted to open this hospital, which is a beacon of hope to us all and an inspiration to the greater South African healthcare industry,” Majodina said.

According to Majodina, the Port Alfred Hospital, which features public and private facilities side by side, will benefit the local community not only by providing healthcare, but also through the provision of jobs and business opportunities.

“The long-term development of the region has already been boosted substantially because of the purchasing of construction materials,” she said. “The ongoing procurement of ‘soft services’, which is expected to exceed R600-million over the operational period of the project, will ensure a continued benefit for the community for many years to come.”

Enhancing service delivery

Nalithemba Hospitals chairman Mike Magwa said the two main objectives of the project were to enhance patient flow and service delivery at the hospital, through ensuring that the facilities were as user-friendly as possible and capable of supporting modern healthcare services.

He explained that the Port Alfred Hospital had to be rebuilt in its entirety, as the old hospital was originally situated in a low-lying area that frequently experienced flooding.

“The new Port Alfred Hospital includes a new theatre block with an additional theatre, and extended radiology facility, improved access to the hospital, as well as a new reception and waiting areas,” he said. “State-of-the-art medical equipment was also installed at the hospital, [which] includes a four-bed maternity ward and a 26-bed general ward.”

Magwa also pointed out that the hospital could now provide a full range of healthcare services to private patients, who until now had to travel to either East London or Port Elizabeth to seek private healthcare services.

Raising the bar on healthcare

During its pre-opening inspection, the hospital drew high praise from representatives of both the national Department of Health and the Board of Healthcare Funders.

Netcare CEO Richard Friedland said the hospital truly raised the bar in terms of the provision of healthcare services in the surrounding areas, and that the hospital had already received widespread interest from medical specialists who would like to make use of its well-equipped facilities.

“Good news for the community of the greater Port Alfred area is that we have created 75 full-time positions within the hospital, while contracted external providers have created many more opportunities,” he said. “As the demand for the hospital’s services increase, so to will the number of jobs created.”

Advantages for communities

“Through this public private partnership, empowerment in the Eastern Cape will be boosted substantially,” Friedland said. “As much as 40% of the construction and 50% of the ongoing operational expenditure has and will continue going to black people or enterprises.”

He added that a minimum of 50% of the shareholding in the consortium was held by local black people – with black women comprising a percentage of the management of both the private party and their key contractors – and that this would continue being the case during the 15-year lifespan of the project.

“In public private partnerships such as these, great emphasis is placed on skills transfer and embedding management and clinical policies that unsure the upkeep of the quality of care delivered,” Friedland said.

“We believe that by being able to share our expertise with the local government and people of these communities, we will make a truly valuable contribution to the health and wellbeing of the Eastern Cape, while helping to promote sustainable economic development.”

SAinfo reporter

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