New hospitals make a real difference

In 2005, the department of health, with the then Gauteng department of public transport, roads and works — currently the Gauteng department of infrastructure development (DID) — started with the planning and construction of the New Natalspruit Hospital. 

 A new hospital was needed to replace the old Natalspruit Hospital, which was situated in Katlehong in an area plagued by sinkholes.

Geotechnical reports for the area show that in 1983 there was a sinkhole-related event. In 1998 and 2003 similar occurrences were reported, and one of the incidents affected the buildings. Luckily no lives were lost. These events are among the factors that led to the decision to relocate the hospital.  

South Africa has various dolomitic prevalence areas and Gauteng ranks among the high concentration areas. Historical segregation’s spatial planning did not help the situation. Dolomite prevalence and risk profile can be categorised according to geophysical structure, including dolomite presence. For buildings to resist the impact of dolomite-related geostructural failure, they have to be designed and constructed for such conditions. Where provisions were not made during the construction of buildings, it is likely the structures will compromise occupants’ safety unless a strict intervention regime is religiously followed and there is some degree of luck. All the reports stressed that future catastrophic occurrences could not be ruled out.  

New Natalspruit Hospital (Thelle Mogoerane) 

The New Natalspruit Hospital is a combination of a Level 1 and Level 2 hospital, providing 821 beds that will service the Kathorus (Kathlehong, Thokoza and Vosloorus) communities, as well as any emergencies that may arise on the N3. The project spans over 71 000m2 and offers modern design utilising space, volume and natural light and ventilation.

The current hospital site was sourced from the City of Ekurhuleni; it was previously used to house community sporting facilities. As a condition for the transfer of land to the Gauteng provincial government (GPG), the province had to relocate the sporting facilities to an adjacent site along Ukufika Street. This was undertaken as part of phase one, including bulk earth works and foundations for the current main project.  

The deeds of transfer also required the province to improve access roads and this was executed as a separate project. This resulted in the widening of streets, with some becoming dual carriage. Taking into account the site condition, the facility was designed and located in a centralised position on the site, to enable multiple accesses from both Ngquza and Ukufika streets. 

The design allows for optimised natural lighting utilisation, with a hospital service street spine connecting functional units. This ensures that hospital activities cannot be disrupted by inclement weather. The first building from the entrance is the Gateway clinic, modelled to ensure that only emergency and referral cases go the hospital and ordinary cases end up at the clinic. 

The facility’s functionality is supported by a high technology backbone, creating full capability for a paperless environment. 

The design has “welcome to the future” high volumetric spaces with a harmonic, multi-colour, modern feel that is aesthetically pleasing and conducive to healing. The architecture signifies a radical departure from the historical legacy that did not give disadvantaged communities the respect they deserved. This mega structure has become a catalyst for further economic interest among many private sector property investors. 

For easy traffic flow the traffic engineers have constructed traffic circles at most intersections around the facility. The traffic circles also make the facility more accessible from arterial routes. However, direct access to the N3 is still subject to engagement with the South African National Roads Agency and the department of roads and transport.

As the main hospital site was not adequate to accommodate all needs – in particular the doctors’ and nurses’ residence – a site was identified opposite the hospital on Ngquza Street. The facility is at planning stage and will house a crèche, training facilities and the necessary accommodation. It will connect to the hospital through a pedestrian bridge and ICT infrastructure. 

Zola-Jabulani (Bheki Mlangeni) Hospital 

The decision to construct the Zola Hospital was taken in light of the need for a district hospital in the Soweto area that could help relieve pressure on Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital and further enhance access to health services. The project consists of two sections: a gateway clinic and a main hospital building with the necessary supporting outbuildings, including a laundry, kitchen, mortuary, workshops, storerooms and a plant room. 

This modern, world-class 300-bed hospital is fitted with the latest designs and technology, encompassing colour, easy access flows, natural light and a hospital street which gives easy access to the outpatient department and the pharmacy. The integrated modular designs with light-wells, screens and louvers links all blocks and floors via bridges and ramps so that the use of lifts is minimised for patients, staff and visitors. The design of wards and nurse stations mirror each other and can be easily accessed by staff from either side via the integrated design. The pendant-like bed head units feature the latest technology and design, allowing for ease of use for both staff and patients. 

The integrated building management system incorporates all aspects of the hospital from its mechanics to its public address system, nurses’ call units, emergency address unit, generators, security systems, and the like. This system will be able to send speedy alerts on faulty equipment to minimise downtime.

The flow of the hospital is designed in such a way that begins with the emergency unit and flows towards the hospital street, leading to the emergency bay for ambulances; the administration area; the general ear and eye department; the specialised surgery and medical departments and the pharmacy.

The first floor houses the chief executive’s office and administration block, as well as the departments of gynaecology, obstetrics, psychiatry and a step-down facility. The second floor houses a kangaroo care unit (for neonates), a mother-and-child care unit and the offices of the building management services department. The third floor is where the intensive care unit, theatres and high care wards are found.

The more critical patients are cared for in one sector (where the theatres, ICU and high care are situated) and leads towards the respective wards on the third floor. The facility has also made provision for a staff crèche to accommodate the irregular hours that staff work at the hospital. The facility has its own reservoir for water, which is separated for domestic and fire supply. The hospital itself has 150 parking bays to accommodate patients and visitors.  Staff parking has been sectioned adjacent the gateway clinic.

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