Phase 1 of the new facility which was handed over to the Eastern Cape Department of Health this week, can accommodate 1,485 patients including high-acuity patients who require oxygenation.
The project is a cooperative collaboration between Volkswagen SA, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Eastern Cape Department of Health, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.
Funding the medical facility
The German BMZ provided R100 million in funding and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber assisted in facilitating the project. The Department of Health is tasked with running the facility, with support from the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. At completion, the facility will be able to accommodate 3,300 patients.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was in attendance at the handover ceremony as well as Eastern Cape Premier, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane and Thomas Schaeffer, Chairman and Managing Director of VWSA among others.
Where is it?
The facility is set up in the old VWSA factory in Neave, Port Elizabeth and is another investment by the company in combatting the pandemic.
The speedy collaboration with the various organisations and stakeholders is paramount, according to Thomas Schaefer.
“We have learned that collaboration is key when facing an unprecedented threat such as COVID-19. This pandemic requires us to act decisively and with speed. VWSA has answered this call by completing and delivering phase 1 of the medical facility at the time when it is desperately needed by our metro which is currently experiencing an alarming increase of infections. We are honoured to be able to provide this facility so our communities can receive the care they need during this difficult period of our lifetime.”
VWSA forms part of the National Government Task Force and this project is in conjunction with other investments into tackling the crises from the pandemic, both on an economic and health level.
As part of this handover, VWSA also announced an additional R25 million donation towards the facility as well as protective equipment for staff at Eastern Cape regional tertiary centres, clinics and testing centres.
The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) branch in PE which is responsible for the majority of testing in the metro, is to receive R11 million in funding from this project towards improving testing efficiencies and increasing volume. The hope is to increase average output of 1,500 tests to more than 3,000 tests per day.
The Premier of the Eastern Cape, Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane, welcomed the completion of the first phase of the field hospital.
“The intervention by Volkswagen Group South Africa and the German government, to invest in the establishment of this 3,300-bed field hospital, came at the right time as more than 12,000 people in our province are infected by COVID-19,” said Mabuyane.
“It is neatly dove-tailing into our broader strategy of establishing field hospitals to fight the pandemic in the Eastern Cape. We were looking for more beds to increase our capacity and ensure that whoever is in need of hospitalisation, would be able to get that support from this public-private partnership.”
Mabuyane revealed that the hospital will be named the Rev. Dr Elizabeth Mamisa Chabula-Nxiweni Field Hospital. This name was chosen in honour of the retired Reverend and doctor, a vocal advocate for safe circumcision during initiation ceremonies.
Dr Gerd Müller, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, commented: “I am pleased that the temporary hospital in Port Elizabeth opened today. Working together with Volkswagen South Africa, we have managed in just seven weeks to convert a factory that was not being used into a facility for patients.”
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