It was a joyous celebration on Tuesday this week. Dignitaries and hospital staff could not contain their excitement at the prospect of the opening of the pristine new hospital.
Derek Watts (Carte Blanche presenter): "I think it is going to take your breath away when you see it, but it is also going to give a breath of life to very many young souls."
Chantal Rutter Dros (Carte Blanche presenter): "Let's not forget - this is actually all about the children, about giving children a new way of looking forward and better possibilities in their future. And that's what makes it so absolutely exceptional."
Chantal: "It began as an idea to celebrate Carte Blanche's 20th birthday and it became a campaign that exceeded expectation. On the 5th of June, the Making A Difference campaign launched the BHP Billiton Paediatric Centre of Excellence at the King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban. Let's take a look at why it was necessary to build this facility."
King Edward VIII Hospital is South Africa's second largest hospital and serves a vast community of patients from Durban and beyond.
Because of the specialist treatment it offers, the hospital draws patients from the northern reaches of the Eastern Cape and most of rural Zululand.
Sister Nobantu Madekani trained here and has worked in the paediatric wards for 20 years.
Sister Nobantu Madekani: "I have been in nursing for more than 35 years because, after passing my Matric, I came straight to King Edward and do my training. All my life I have been here at King Edward."
Each child is taken care of by a dedicated team of doctors and nurses. We spent some time at the old unit before they moved.
Sister Madekani: "When I arrive we wait for the night staff to give us the report about the babies who are critically ill and what is needed for them. After that we go for prayers. We call the mothers... because we believe in prayer, we pray with them."
But, with the building falling down around them and much of the equipment outdated or broken, conditions weren't ideal and more than prayers were needed.
Sister Madekani delayed her retirement so that she can supervise the move to the new hospital.
Sister Madekani: "I have to teach the other ones how to do the work so that I can leave peacefully."
Dr Kimesh Naidoo trained at the hospital and is now a head paediatrician.
The Nelson Mandela Medical School, attached to the hospital, produces 200 new doctors every year, and the largest number of paediatricians in the country.
Dr Kimesh Naidoo (Head paediatrician): "We are what is termed ‘a tertiary hospital’, which means that we see children [which] have been referred to us from other paediatricians in other hospitals. So these children have really been through general doctors, they've been through clinics, they've been through private doctors, they have been through other hospitals... and now they are deemed so difficult to manage or unusual to manage that they are then sent to us. And that's where we come in and try to deal with those complicated cases."
Patrice Gous, from Wentworth, has a daughter, Martinique who suffers from chronic asthma.
Patrice Gous: "There's times when I have to grab her, grab anything, go with my pyjamas and just take her. And if I don't take her as soon as possible there's a possibility that I could lose Martinique."
Martinique was first referred to King Edward VIII Hospital when she was two.
Patrice: "I've had so much of help and assistance being in King Edward hospital. They are always supportive and loving and caring."
Dr Uvistra Naidoo is Martinique's paediatrician and says it's been tough.
Dr Uvistra Naidoo (Paediatrician): "King Edward isn't the prettiest of all hospitals. It's very old, very torn down, but the care we give is pretty outstanding... and the staff make the most of what resources we have. Sadly the buildings haven't been in our favour in the last couple of years."
Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): "The Paediatric Hospital is not just a resuscitation and trauma unit - children with chronic illnesses come here on a monthly basis to collect their medication."
Four-year-old Aphile Mdunge suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She and her mother live in KwaMashu, on the outskirts of Durban and are regular visitors.
Mbali Mdunge: "I noticed when she was six months; when she was supposed to be sitting. And then we noticed that her neck was floppy... that's when we discovered that there was a problem with her."
And although Aphile has a set appointment, with so many others also needing care too, she and Mbali sometimes end up waiting hours to be helped.
The old waiting area was dark and gloomy.
Dr Kimesh Naidoo: "Looking after sick children in a derelict building, which has not been planned appropriately, is very dangerous. From a health and safety point of view it's really unacceptable. The second point is that these children are sick, the parents are anxious, and to come to a place where the roofs are falling in - it really adds much more stress that should not be there."
Sister Madekani says the environment didn't boost staff morale either.
Sister Madekani: "Nobody wants to come to work. As you can see, our window [on screen] - they did not have the glass, so they have to put the [hard] board."
The door to the day clinic had been broken for some time and all data was captured manually. This is the old paediatric hospital's official reception [on screen].
Sister Madekani: "As you can see... our books nicely covered [on screen] and matching our table cloth [laughs]."
Chantal: "After the break, building hope for doctors, nurses and their little patients."
Bongani: "Although the largest project to date, the Paediatric Centre of Excellence is only part of the Carte Blanche Making A Difference campaign, which encompasses seven hospitals in six cities. For instance, between them, Charlotte Mxenge and Chris Hani Baragwanath have received donations of over R36-million, including intensive care units and digital operating theatres. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of our sponsors, the architects, the builders and the planners. So let's take a look at what went into the King Edward project."
In June last year the first sod was turned at what would eventually become the new BHP Billiton Paediatric Centre of Excellence - an initiative of the Carte Blanche Making a Difference campaign...
... Another chapter in the history of a hospital that had its roots in the 1930s.
And we found out that change was much needed when we first visited the neo-natal wards four years ago.
[Carte Blanche August 2008] Devi Sankaree Govender (Carte Blanche presenter): "Because the hospital is 76 years old, the design is impractical. When babies need to go for sonars, they have to travel through corridors like this [on screen], which are uneven and draughty."
Bongani: "This is the more familiar picture of the King Edward hospital: old, barely functioning... really on its last legs. And that's where the Making A Difference Campaign came in."
It was clear that the health of children in the province was at risk... Not only because of a lack of equipment, but because the paediatric buildings were old and in disrepair.
George Mazarakis (Executive Producer: Carte Blanche): "King Edward stood out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of a place where we needed to intervene to the degree of building a new building, purely because it was so shocking."
The paediatric, outpatient, high care and intensive care units were built in the 1950s. Apart from the odd lick of paint, not much else, it seemed, had been done since then to maintain the buildings.
In order to really make a difference, the campaign needed a lot of money... more than it had cost to build Bara's state-of-the art neo-natal unit; much more than Charlotte Mxenge's digital hanging theatre...
George approached BHP Billiton.
George: "And I said to them, 'I need money from you for the campaign.' And they gave me a serious amount of money; they gave me R8-million to start with. And I said, 'Sorry, that's not enough.' And they were quite taken aback at my cheek. It was really cheeky of me, I must say, but the point was that I knew that they could do more and they were willing to do more."
One visit to the hospital and executives realised the conditions the small patients, parents and staff were dealing with.
BHP Billiton donated R20-million.
Johnny Dladla is from the mining company...
Johnny Dladla (VP Communications: BHP Billiton): "We believe that wherever we operate in the world, we form part of that community and this is just one of those examples here."
George: "It was heart-wrenching to see these people working in really abject conditions and children not making it; not surviving because the hospital didn't have what it needed to look after them properly."
And so the idea for a brand new facility was born.
Head Paediatrician, Dr Shashikant Ramji showed us around on the day building began.
It was hard to believe that this was to become a fully equipped medical unit - the first to be handed over to the State by a private trust in South Africa.
Dr Shashikant Ramji (Head Paediatrician): "According to normal hospital Health Department regulations the space between the beds is not correct... it's actually very over-crowded."
Bongani: "It takes real dedication and care to work in this environment, but the odds are against you if even the basics, like cleanliness and equipment, are not in working order."
The structure of the old unit was too far gone to renovate.
The challenge now was to design and create a fully functioning, world class paediatric out-patient and resuscitation centre from scratch.
Dr Ramji was part of the team which decided that the ideal site would be the parking lot, at the heart of the hospital.
Architect Rudolf Coetzee is from the Hospital Design Group and injected huge passion into the project.
Rudolf Coetzee (Hospital Design Group): "This is a health care building and it is a fairly complex design. You have a lot of features and facilities that you have to combine in one building..."
Outpatients, for example, is only open during the day. The high care unit is a 24-hour facility. Patients who visit the two units also have very different needs... so, how to combine them into one building? ‘Easy!’ said Rudolph. He took the two halves and joined them to make one circular structure that spirals outwards. But not everyone was convinced.
Bongani: "I believe there was some resistance to the circular design?"
Rudolph: "There was. It is not your usual shape of building, especially for healthcare. But it works. Dr Baloyi... he was amazed by it.
Dr Baloyi is King Edward's Medical Manager.
Dr Olaf Baloyi (Acting CEO: King Edward VIII Hospital): "I kept on asking myself: 'Who fixed us on to this bus-looking structure; long buildings and so on and so forth?' It was like an angel answered me because the designers came with this building that I think will resonate with KwaZulu because we are used to round structures here."
Building began soon after the first sod was turned. The steel frame for the roof arrived in September last year and by March this year the finishing touches were put in place - eight months from start to finish.
In April, the keys to the building were officially handed over to the KZN Department of Health. A few weeks later, the new Paediatric Centre of Excellence opened its doors.
Bongani: "I've just had a walkabout the new section and there are almost no words. I suppose the biggest difference from the old one is that you really didn't even want to put your bag down [in the old one]. Here [the new one] you want to take your shoes off and play."
Gone was the old, cramped outpatients area - in its place, a spacious waiting room with a dispensary, clean toilets and consulting rooms attached.
Rudolf: "So your waiting area is not a separate room - it's actually a space that people circulate through and they wait in. And from that space you get your clinical rooms... the same in your ICU and high care."
Bongani: "So many hospital stories on Carte Blanche have been about long queues and people not being attended to. Well, the beauty of this design is that anyone stationed here [reception] has line of sight of the queue and so they can properly manage it at any given time."
Computers have also been installed throughout the building. In the old hospital, most information was captured manually - it's all about integration and efficiency.
It's a light, bright environment, conducive to making people well.
Dr Ramji: "I think it will enhance the mood of our staff working in this area."
In April the keys to the building were officially handed over to the KZN Department
of Health .
All the vital equipment in the paediatric centre was procured and supplied by the Making A Difference Trust and generous donors.
Dr Ramji: "So we submitted our whole wish list and I think the total cost was about R3-million. And, surprise, surprise we got every single item that was on our wish list."
Karolina Andropoulos (Patron: Carte Blanche Making A Difference Campaign): "Everyone has gone beyond the extra mile - from plumbers to lighting people, to paint people; the materials sponsors have given us an extra smile and we are sincerely grateful to them for what is in fact a hugely generous contribution."
Bongani: "Anyone who has done extensive renovations will tell you the product you end up with is usually quite different to what you started out with. I've just exited from the mothers’ lodgings, which were created because the contractor came in under budget."
In the old unit, mothers - who come from all over the province to accompany their sick children, had to make do with a broken shower and sink.
Now they have a small kitchen area, rest room and a modern bathroom.
Dr Ramji gave us a tour of the all-important high care department.
Dr Ramji: "This is our resuscitation room. Now I think you've seen the old building: when the resuscitation was done there was no dedicated place for resuscitation."
Dr Ramji: "So whenever there's a dire emergency you need to resuscitate, you'll have the privacy and the necessary equipment. So it's a kind of big step ahead from what we've had all these years."
Another big change is that sick children will now have their own cubicles, reducing cross infections.
There are two isolation wards for children with contagious diseases and a separate day ward with space for four beds.
The nurses have a new staff room and there's a resting room for the doctors. And for the young patients, a unique feature - an outdoor play area just for them.
Rudolph: "We brought in bright colours and playful shapes to create a safe, playful environment for each paediatric patient."
Bongani: "This is about as close to heaven for a child as one can possibly get. And that's the whole point of this hospital... is that these spaces are made to work - not only for the doctors and the nursing staff, but for the patients as well. And these little guys [is] what it is all about."
Dr Ramji: "The building of this unit has actually stimulated them to improve the rest of the hospitals."
Renovations have begun on the paediatric and general wards situated just behind the new paediatric centre of excellence.
Karolina: "I think the joy of each person's participation and contribution can be evidenced in every design element of the paediatric centre and in every piece of equipment. Everything smiles back at you - that's what makes me happy about this centre."
Chantal: "By the end of May, the new facility had opened its doors to old friends. It took eight months to build and plenty of heart-stopping moments, but eventually the BHP Billiton Paediatric Centre of Excellence was born."
Weeks ago, everything changed when the Carte Blanche Making a Difference campaign opened the doors of the newly-built paediatric centre of excellence, funded by BHP Billiton.
The fully-equipped centre and its staff set about dramatically improving the quality of health care for children in KZN.
Devi: "What's the move been like? I mean how do you move a hospital?
Dr Kimesh Naidoo: "It's been crazy... I mean it's been really hectic. We've had numerous sleepless nights. The nurses and the staff and the doctors - you can see how proud they are in the building. People never took a pride in the old building because it was so dilapidated. And you can see - visibly - people taking pride in everything they do. So it's been really a humbling and a beautiful experience for everybody."
No building is complete without being blessed and a ceremony was held with staff and some of the regulars like Martinique and her family.
We wondered what everyone thought of the new and unfamiliar environment.
We took them on a tour of the building, designed to make kids feel a whole lot better even before treatment.
Patrice: "It's beautiful, it's excellent! Its clean, its fresh, the equipment is awesome! What I like is the individual bedding, with the kids, because u get some kids with TB, with different transmitted diseases... so every kid will be in its own closed up place."
For dad Riccardo, less damp was key.
Riccardo Gous: "It's so much [difference] because now you can smell it... the freshness in the air."
Devi: "How do you feel about visiting this hospital?"
Martinique: "It's awesome. I really like it [gets shy]."
Devi: "You like it!"
Mbali and Aphile were there too and were impressed by the technology available.
Mbali: "Because at the old POPD everything was bad, the machines were sometimes not working. So I think it's gonna make nurses work to be more effective and quicker."
The building is designed to promote efficiency and at the same time parents get the privacy they need to deal with the trauma of a sick child.
Devi: "In the new hospital, this is where Aphile and Martinique will come if they have a fit or an asthma attack."
Dr Kimesh Naidoo: "So acute paediatric emergencies... we now can bring them into a facility where we can look after them away from the children who are admitted. So, even if the resuscitation is not successful, that won't be viewed by the other children who are there as patients, which happened before."
Designed to use lots of natural light, with sunlight streaming in, it couldn't be more different from the dank rooms of the old hospital.
Devi: "Sister, these children [playing outside] don't look like they are ill!"
Sister Madekani: "No, no, no... That is wrong... they are ill and sick! But this is part of their therapeutic treatment! Because they get bored when they sit - and you always tell them ‘sit still, sit still!’ - they get more sick."
Nothing like a pleasant working environment to motivate people and, with a new staff room, up-to-date computers, and a welcoming reception area, the nurses have bestowed plenty of blessings on their new work space.
This new hospital is set to help hundreds of thousands of children in KwaZulu-Natal and its establishment is inspirational says Patricia van Rooyen, MNET's CEO, who spoke at the opening.
Patricia van Rooyen (MNET CEO): "For the first time in our country, a television programme has been the force behind real change. It is a beacon of hope; it's a beacon for the future and a testimonial to the passion, dedication and vision of a group of remarkable people... a group of remarkable South Africans.'
George: "Who would have thought that television journalists, whose function it is to go and dig and find fault, would actually get to the point of saying: 'Let's stop finding fault; let's see how we can fix something; let's see what we can do.'"
There are very few exclusively paediatric hospitals in the country and it's hoped that private/public sector initiatives like this one will kick-start others too, says Dr Olaf Baloyi, the acting head of King Edward VIII Hospital.
Dr Baloyi: "A day when a dream became a reality. This is the beginning of greater things to come with co-operation between the private and public service.'
Getting involved in a project like this has brought meaning to mining house BHP Billiton, and helped them achieve their goals. Chairman Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi officially opened the building.
Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi (BHP Billiton): "What's special for us, the beneficiaries of the whole campaign, are children. I don't know if you know that our slogan is 'resourcing the future' and this is a perfect way of doing it. We all know the future is our children; they start here.'
This circle of light and sunshine will be here for decades to come and it's not only thanks to the big sponsors, but also to those who gave cash donations, supplied the paint, plumbing, flooring, bricks and mortar.
[On screen] Hutz Medical; Crazy Concepts; Comet Coatings; Intramach; Corobrik; Plumblink; Comap; Polyflor; Hospitrack; Beka Lighting; Tri-Cor Signs; Standard Bank; Sasol; Blue Label Telecoms; Freddy Hirsch; Investment Solutions; LG Electronics; Kantey & Templar Consulting Engineers; LS Bossenger & Associates; Exxaro; Shoprite Checkers; KFC Social Trust; Choice Diamonds; Wrighton Family Trust; Shaun Sergel; S&F Howell; S Beaton; Horizon Packaging; P Hairparsad; SC Venter; Pieter Brits; Siements LTKF; Silverton Trans Val; TC Rowell;
KZN's MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo trained as a medical doctor at this hospital.
Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo (MEC Health KwaZulu-Natal): 'We are very grateful that on behalf of KwaZulu-Natal government and in particular Department of Health we are receiving such a great and a wonderful gift from this conglomeration of partners. You are actually guaranteeing children of South Africa, children of KwaZulu-Natal, a possibility of a long and healthy life.'
The new hospital is to remember a little girl who died too early. Georgina Wurr was treated at an Australian facility where the State and private sector came together. She later died in South Africa.
Her mother Karolina Andropoulos is the patron of the Making A Difference Trust and is determined that this project is one that will live on.
George: 'She did not die in vain. Her death has resulted in seven hospitals around the country and three charities being assisted."
Producer : Carol Albertyn Christie
Presenter : Devi Sankaree Govender
View the full image gallery on our Facebook Page.
Read Doctor Shashi Ramji’s blog: A Changed World for Paediatrics at King Edward VIII Hospital.
Read King Edward VIII Hospital One Year On