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CB20: A Gem in Kimberley

31 January 2010
In 2008 Carte Blanche launched a campaign to raise R20-million to refurbish six State hospitals. We’ve more than trebled that amount and in this update we focus on the Kimberley Hospital Complex where a private public partnership has completely transformed the paediatric ICU. Carte Blanche makes a difference.

Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche presenter): 'The world's first streetlights were put up in Kimberley but today this is hardly the centre of innovation and technology. It's really just a big hole. Well, think again.

Patricia Scholtemeyer (CEO: M-Net): 'At M-Net we are very committed to social responsibility and we do all our programmes under the banner of 'M-Net cares'. When I heard what was happening in Kimberley I felt compelled that I had to come.'

What was so compelling to bring M-Net CEO Patricia Scholtemeyer to Kimberley or the chairman of BHP Billiton Dr Xolani Nkwanazi? It was to witness a miraculous transformation of this run-down ICU into a state of the art paediatric ward; another milestone in the Carte Blanche Making A Difference Campaign.

Dr Pieter Jooste (Specialist paediatrician): 'It was like moving from the third world to the first world in two months.'

Every day Dr Pieter Jooste does his rounds at the Kimberley Hospital Complex. He is a soft-spoken paediatrician who until recently was the only one in the public health system for the whole of the Northern Cape. That's an area larger than Germany! If a child is in serious trouble in this province, more than likely, they will end up in Dr Jooste's hands.

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Dr Jooste: 'This is 128-bed paediatric hospital so it is a very big department. So basically I need two more colleagues. So at the moment you are sort of triaging the whole time to decide which are the most critical cases to attend to.'

What he needed more than anything was a decent, well equipped ICU. What he had was an old, cramped general ward and a shortage of ventilators and other vital equipment.

Dr Jooste: 'One often has to improvise because of lack of equipment and the care, therefore, is suboptimal.'

And these are the children that challenge Dr Jooste and his team the most. They are the fighters. Life for many of them is hanging by a thread. He knew a new ICU would give more of them a better chance.

Dr Michelle Muller is a first year registrar and one of Dr Jooste's senior doctors.

Dr Michelle Muller (1st year registrar paediatrics): 'I think we have always had the staff, I think we had the motivation, but we were struggling because we couldn't actually deliver the kind of service that we want to.'

The answer to Dr Jooste's prayers would come from an unlikely source - the manganese mines in Hotazel owned by BHP Billiton and a television programme campaign that had identified hospitals in need. The Kimberley hospital was not on the list, but Tshidi Ramogase and Nomfundo Mqadi from BHP Billiton would soon change that.

Gordon Moncho (CEO: Kimberly Hospital Complex): 'We are very privileged to have been selected as one of the hospitals being a beneficiary of this process.'

CEO of the Kimberley Hospital Complex Gordon Moncho had just landed in his new job when the offer of R5-million from Carte Blanche and BHP Billiton arrived on his desk. It was an offer he simply couldn't refuse and he was soon chairing weekly meetings to get the project rolling.

Moncho: 'The preliminary sketches that we have seen; about the type of facility we will be getting... In fact I can't wait for the end of this project to wheel in the first baby.'

The whole paediatric area was old and run-down. This is what the old ICU looked like before the patients were transferred and the construction team moved in. To create space the architects would knock down a wall to join these two rooms. Their plan was to eliminate the straight lines so the ward was less sterile and depressing for the children and the staff.

Bongani: 'When the project started this hospital was drab and uninspiring, but for the painters, the installers, the builders, the floor people... the pressure wasn't just to make it beautiful. In two months there was bustling, hammering, chiselling... the race was on.'

And all that pressure landed on the shoulders of project manager Hylton Schwenk who, along with the architects, the quantify surveyors and engineers, all gave their time pro bono.

Hylton Schwenk (Project Manager): 'Get on with the job, these are the parameters and that is your deadline to finish it. That freedom of activity, the freedom of ability to move and make decisions within seconds literally helped us to achieve our deadline within the eight or nine weeks.'

For the planners collaboration was key and the staff and even a patient or two made suggestions. 15-year-old Sammy is a diabetic patient who has been in and out of ICU many times.

Sammy Mokoena (Patient): 'They did ask me what must they put in and I told them TVs, paint the colours blue and yellow and orange.'

Hylton: 'He was very clear to suggest that the nursing staff should not eat in front of him because it upsets him because they never had a tearoom. ICU should have its own. He wanted to have a television so all of his primary wishes have been met.'

Hylton had his work cut out for him managing a building site on the 4th floor, down a corridor past the patients. Two of the main lifts were being replaced, the hospital was full and at times too many contractors were sharing the space.

Hylton: 'It was extreme to say the least. We were working in 150 square metres of floor area and at one point we had something in the order of ten contractors all trying to do their own bit.'

While the ICU was under construction, new equipment was starting to arrive. The GSI Audera machine was something head of Audiology Annelie Steenkamp had only dreamed of.

Bongani: 'When you were told this would be made available what was your reaction?'

Annelie Steenkamp (Chief Speech Therapist: Kimberley Hospital Complex): 'Jumping up and down! We have been waiting for this machine for four years so we are very excited.'

The machine sends a series of sounds through the ear and then measures brain stem response. Previously children would be put on a waiting list to be tested in Bloemfontein, possibly delaying their language development.

Annelie: 'If they are on the waiting list and we don't have this machine they are just going to slip through the system. If we test them with this machine and we can fit them with hearing aids they have a chance of normal speech and language development.'

Eventually, late last year, Mr Moncho's big day finally came.

Bongani: 'So this is it?'

Mr Moncho: 'This is our paediatric ICU for Kimberly Hospital Complex. I don't know if I should say this, but when I walked in the first time I couldn't help myself. I just saw tears rolling down because of the good work and the goodwill that went into this.'

And if Gordon Moncho was in tears the nurses were simply overwhelmed.

Nurse: 'It's beautiful!'

New equipment was everywhere and four brand new monitors would mean that Dr Jooste no longer needed to make difficult choices about which patient was more deserving. Polyflor donated the colourful floor. Sammy had got his TVs and the doctors were learning how to use their new touch screen. It was clear that even George Mazarakis, Carte Blanche's executive producer [and a] difficult man to please, was impressed.

Sizani Makhetha has been nursing here for 11 years.

Sizani Makhetha (Professional Nurse): 'You know, working here, even if you come [to work] depressed or down... just the entrance, just the set up, the colours and everything, you feel uplifted. And you feel motivated to work and take on the tough work that we are doing with the very ill patients.'

We hadn't been there long when we saw the real value of the nurse's station designed to provide a clear view of every patient.

Bongani: 'As we were filming this baby lost a lot of oxygen and has had to be resuscitated. The real business of this ward is saving lives like this little baby.'

Ruth Sithebe has worked as a paediatric nurse here for 12 years.

Ruth Sithebe (Professional Nurse): 'It helped that they could see it in time because if they weren't there the patient would have gone into respiratory arrest.'

Alberto is one of Dr Michelle Muller's favourite patients. Since we filmed him he has had an operation to help him breathe easier. And after four days in ICU he is doing well.

Dr Muller: 'What we now have is what we need to be able to save these lives; that we can actually offer the care that the child needs.'

The old ward was uncomfortable for the mothers. Now there are new reclining chairs bringing them relief as they spend hours in ICU willing their children to live. Studies show that a mother's presence has a profound effect on the health of her sick child. Ursula Moacwi and her daughter, Hope, have been test driving the new chairs.

Bongani: 'Has it made a difference?'

Ursula Moacwi (Mother): 'Lots! And the stronger I am the quicker my child gets better.'

Hope is now three months old. She has pneumonia. A mere 500g at birth, she now weighs 1.6kg. She owes her survival to the brand new ICU.

In January premier of the Northern Cape Hazel Jenkins shared the podium with other dignitaries at the official opening

Hazel Jenkins (Premier, Northern Cape Province): 'I also wish to take this opportunity to applaud the laudable collaborative efforts by Carte Blanche and BHP Billiton to make a constructive contribution towards improving our health system.'

Together the premier and BHP Billiton's chairman Dr Xolani Mkwanazi unveiled the plaque.
And Patricia Scholtemeyer opened did the honours.

Patricia: [Cuts ribbon]

Dr Jooste: 'I've never seen so much goodwill in any project I was involved in before. It was just public, private coming together and everything worked.'

BHP Billiton's Dr Xolani Mkwanazi still found time to comfort this troubled mother.

Bongani: 'You have obviously to date been our biggest contributor. Are you getting your money's worth?'

Dr Xolani Mkwanazi (Chairman: BHP Billiton): 'Any time you do things that make a positive impact to people you do get your money's worth.'

BHP Billiton was the biggest sponsor giving R5-million. And these other companies gave generously of either their goods or their services:

[On screen]
Health Planning and Project Management: Zhoozsh

Architects: Hospital Design Group

Quantity Surveyors: Walker Mare

Mechanical & Electrical Engineers: Mekan Engineering

Ventilators: Respiratory Care Africa

Monitors: SSEM Mthembu

Building Contractor: Tswela Construction

Electrical Contractor: Theo May Electrical

Medical Gas Contractor: Medical Gas Solutions:

Air-conditioning: CRC Engineering

Aluminium & Glazing: Van Zyl Aluminium

Joinery: TJ's Joinery

Paint Supplier: Marmoram Coatings

Painting Contractor: Prestige Coatings

Medical Pendants: Hutz Medical

Nurse Call Systems & TV Sets: JJ Communications

Inspection Lamps & X-ray Monitor: Sakhiwo Health Solutions

Floor Covering: Polyflor

Flooring Contractor: Pennypinchers

Taps: Cobra Watertech

Shelving & Storage: Locker Logistics

Bed Screens: Axis Hygienic Solutions

Signage: Reflecto Signs

Fire Equipment: Kimfire

Soon the guests left and the dedicated staff got back to the important task of saving these young lives. Meanwhile Mr Moncho incorporated a new ritual into his daily routine.

Mr Moncho: 'I start at 7am. I first come here just to draw some inspiration for the day because this place has literally changed the culture of the institution.'

Producer : Joy Summers
Presenter : Bongani Bingwa