Hospital’s new lease on life

LIZAHN WENTZEL

A multi-million rand project to upgrade a derelict section of Stikland Hospital, on Old Paarl Road, in Bellville, is under way.

Residents are delighted that the run-down facility will get a facelift and say its poor state had blighted the surrounding communities.

The R8.7 million upgrade is facilitated by the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works on behalf of the Department of Health.

The five-month contract was commissioned in February.

The first phase of the project, which involved cleaning of the hospital’s north campus, was completed last week. The second phase, to refurbish the old pharmacy, is under way and includes setting up a new archive facility.

Eugene Grobler, chairman of Blommendal Neighbourhood Watch, said they had been trying to get the area cleaned up for several years.

“The land became a big problem for the Blommendal community, due to the state of the area. Vagrants would sleep on the property and in the old chemist. They would also climb over the walls to gain entry into the residential area,” said Mr Grobler.

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Ward 3 councillor Brendan van der Merwe said he had brought the state of the facility to the attention of City officials, in the interest of public safety.

“The north campus was overgrown and unkempt. The project was to steer the clearing of the site for safety reasons,” he said.

Hennie Bosman, of the Broken Window Project, said they had become worried about crime in the area. Broken Window Project is an affiliate of the Blommendal NHW and carries out various projects on its behalf.

“There was an old dwelling that was used as a ‘hostel’. This all had to stop, as we had more thefts and people moving in and out of our area,” he said.

The hospital was identified by the City as a hot spot for environmental health concerns.

“The land became a health hazard, and therefore we started this project to clear the property,” said Mr Van der Merwe.

A steering committee was established, which included Mr Van der Merwe, City Health, the provincial Department of Public Works, the Blommendal NHW and the Broken Window Project.

Once completed, the old pharmacy will be used to process and digitally store patient files from various state hospitals for about 21 years.

“The construction of this facility is in line with the Green Economy Framework, which identified a disused, well-located, facility to repurpose,” said Heinrich Robertson, spokesman for the Department of Public Works.

This framework refers to the Western Cape’s mission to become the lowest-carbon province and leading green economic hub in Africa.

A fire suppression system will be installed for the safekeeping of files.

“In the event of a fire, this system uses gas to extinguish the fire, which will not damage the files,” said Mr Robertson.

He added: “Additionally, an automated climate control system has been installed to reduce the aging effects on the paper during the archived period of 21 years.”

City Health was involved in managing the clean-up of the Stikland Hospital campus.

The first phase involved the cleaning of the premises, removal of thorn bushes, and the fencing along the bridge. A contractor has been appointed for a year to make sure the vacant land is maintained.

Mr Basson said he was proud to be associated with the project.

“I was fortunate enough to be a part of the clean-up process on the northern campus, together with the municipality and provincial government,” he said.

He added: “We can now see from side to side when driving in the area. We trust that the relevant officials will maintain this area and not allow it to get back to state that we found it in.”

Mr Grobler said the watch was pleased with the clean-up but it would need to be an ongoing project.

“A contractor has been employed to keep the property clean. We will do regular check-ups and give feedback to the relevant officials,” he said.

The Broken Window Project team say they will continue their work to keep the Blommendal entrances clean.

The thick shrubs opposite the Dunatos Private School, which is based on the Stikland premises, will also be thinned and maintained by the contractor to improve visibility, they said.