Thandeka Moyo- Ndlovu, Health Reporter
EKUSILENI Medical Centre in Bulawayo will finally open its doors to members of the public on November 30 with a 50-bed capacity amid revelations that the institution is now ready to admit Covid-19 patients.
The hospital which has been designated as a Covid-19 centre, was closed more than 15 years ago when its equipment was declared obsolete.
Ekusileni, a brainchild of late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo, has experienced a number of false starts and numerous efforts to re-open the institution whose building is owned by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) have failed. The hospital was opened in 2001 and closed in 2004.
Last month, however, there was hope that the institution would be re-opened after the Government identified it as one of the institutions that were earmarked to house cases of Covid-19 in the city.
According to the Ministry of Health and Child Care, as of October 15, Zimbabwe had recorded 8 075 cases, 7 669 recoveries and 231 Covid-19 deaths. Bulawayo province accounts for 1 534 cases, 87 deaths and 1 404 recoveries.
The seven-day rolling average for new cases rose to 19 from 17, cumulative cases curve flattened while the national case fatality rate now stands at 2.9 percent as of Wednesday.
Ekusileni has been designated as one of the Covid-19 treatment centres in Bulawayo but the Government wants it to be a specialist medical training centre post the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bulawayo is home to four designated centres, and three are all undergoing renovations since the outbreak of Covid-19.
The others are Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, the Old Bartley Memorial Block (BMB) within the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) which is now close to completion and privately-owned Mater Dei Hospital.
The BMB is said to be almost ready and will open its doors on November 1 though authorities had projected that by mid-this month Covid-19 patients will be able to access treatment there.
Yesterday UBH had two Covid-19 patients who are said to be stable and awaiting discharge.
Speaking during a tour of the isolation centres yesterday, Minister of Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Cde Judith Ncube said she was happy with the progress at all three health institutions.
She also commended Bulawayo residents for the patience and support rendered so far to ensure the city is prepared to handle Covid-19 in case there is an upsurge of cases in need of treatment.
“We are preparing for the worst and our wish as a Government is if we happen to have an increase in cases, affected persons should be well received and well taken care of hence we are doing our best at Ekusileni, UBH and Mpilo B5 ward which was revamped by NetOne and TelOne,” said Minister Ncube.
“We are so happy because of the role played by the community and that Ekusileni will be finally opening on November 30. We are opening with 50 beds but more beds are needed as we are not yet sure of the path this pandemic will take.”
Minister Ncube said people should continue wearing masks and practising social distancing to avoid being caught in the second wave of Covid-19 being reported in some countries.
She added that with the opening of schools, children must be monitored so that their risk to Covid-19 is reduced.
UBH acting chief executive officer Dr Narcacius Dzvanga said the BMB was 95 percent complete though the hospital was already attending to people with Covid-19.
“We are nearing the completion of our Covid-19 112 bedded BMB which will have 14 ICU beds and 10 beds for the high dependency unit. We were targeting to open mid-October but engineers have told us we are running behind schedule though on the first of November we will take care of Covid-19 from this hospital,” said Dr Dzvanga.
“At the moment we are lodging Covid-19 somewhere. We have two patients ready for discharge who are in the hospital. We wish to move them to the designated centre and we are sure that all will go well.”
Dr Dzvanga said based on the current Covid-19 trend in Zimbabwe, he was sure there will not be time when the centre will be overwhelmed by patients.
He said the UBH outpatients department had opened partially as members will be required to book via the switchboard which has more than 10 lines.
“In an event of an overflow the systems are in place even though I don’t think we will be overwhelmed. We cannot explain how our cases and deaths are still when compared to what we are seeing on international news. Scientists cannot figure out what really is protecting us and we thank God for that. It is very unlikely that we will be overwhelmed by cases,” added Dr Dzvanga.
According to him, the UBH out-patients department has opened partially and members of the public will have to book via phone calls as it can only accommodate 115 patients daily.
“We can only have 50 people at a time of which 20 are cleaners and staff which leaves us with about 15 patients who normally bring escorts. We will be able to attend to members of the public and close by 12PM so that we do the decontamination and prepare for the next day,” he said.
Thorngrove which is also undergoing renovations is open and as of yesterday there were two patients who were in isolation. — @thamamoe