Thandeka Moyo- Ndlovu, Health Reporter
EKUSILENI Medical Centre will by monthend finally open for the first time in nearly 20 years albeit only for Covid-19 cases after its closure due to obsolete equipment.
Operating at only 25 percent capacity, Ekusileni will be accessible to members of the public who present serious Covid-19 symptoms as stated by Government in March.
Bulawayo province did not have a facility that can admit a critical Covid-19 patient and the only option was to take patients in serious condition to Wilkins Hospital in Harare.
A brainchild of the late Vice President Dr Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, Ekusileni was built in 2001 as specialist hospital after Father Zimbabwe developed cancer and failed to access health care services locally.
The hospital operated briefly and was shut down after it was discovered that the acquired equipment, worth millions of dollars, was obsolete.
After it was set aside to cater for Covid-19 patients, there were calls for it to be equipped so it can open to members of the public.
Donations have been trickling in and by the end of June there will be 50 beds at the institution which has a carrying capacity of 200.
Since the declaration of an emergency, various stakeholders have donated towards Ekusileni through the Iam4ByoFighting Covid-19 initiative which has mobilised resources from all over the world to equip all health institutions in Bulawayo to deal with the global pandemic.
The initiative’s chairperson Mr Busisa Moyo said he was grateful for the donations that kept coming which has helped equip the hospital.
So far, the laundry room has been completed and stakeholders have facilitated the installation of an oxygen tank, a compressor and water pump.
Speaking after presenting donations sourced by Iam4ByoFighting Covid-19 to Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Judith Ncube, Mr Moyo said the hospital was about 20 percent ready.
“So, we still have a distance to go and we are going to open it at the month end but only with 50 beds. We will be short of 150 beds which is why we still got a long way to go. We are, however, grateful because we have a governance structure now, we have a board made up of Iam4ByoFighting Covid-19 Initiative, Government of Zimbabwe, Nust and Bulawayo City Council,” said Mr Busisa Moyo.
He said a US$20 700 donation that had come from Friends4Byo in the United States of America would largely go towards purchasing 50 beds for Ekusileni which would be sourced locally.
According to Mr Moyo, part of 50 beds will be for intensive care unit and these will be imported.
“We now have a chief executive officer and few members of staff who are working here full time so this has helped us prepare for the opening.”
He added that the initiative was not just for Ekusileni as part of the donations are going to Mater Dei, Thorngrove Hospital and Mpilo Central Hospital.
“We now have an oxygen tank outside from BOC Gases and we got the laundry room ready that was done by the United Refineries, things that were not there at the beginning of April. However, you will note that the budget for this place to get it opened was about US$3,5 million and in terms of that figure we are maybe 15 to 20 percent of the way,” said Mr Moyo.
Other donations included 30 000 latex gloves and 20 respirators from World Vision and 10 000 masks from National Tested Seeds.
Busuman Motors donated US$500, 100l of diesel and 20l of petrol, while Edgars donated 300 bed sheets.
Alpha Water also donated bottled water and Ingwebu Royal donated mahewu drinks.
Innscor donated food hampers for members of staff at Ekusileni and Mr Nick Graham donated 125 oxygen tanks, 150 oxygen masks and 125 floor regulators.
Minister Ncube said she was grateful for the combined efforts by companies and individuals to ensure Bulawayo is ready to deal with Covid-19.
“On behalf of President Mnangagwa and the Government, I accept these donations and assure you that indeed we will win the fight against Covid-19. It is humbling to see our children from all over the world rallying to equip our hospitals and we are most grateful,” said Minister Ncube. [email protected]