Photographed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday night are, from left to right, founding shareholders Mr Martin Kenneally, Mr Ngange Nongogo (Summit Africa shareholder and chairman of the Crestcare Zoutpansberg Hospital board of directors), Dr Fred Badenhorst, Dr Anton Stroebel and Dr Patrick Tigere. Absent when the photo was taken was founding shareholders Dr Michiel Roos en Dr Emil Gaigher.

Dawn of a new era in private health care

Date: 10 November 2023 By: Anton van Zyl

The opening ceremony of the new Crestcare Zoutpansberg Private Hospital on Friday night marked the start of a new era in private health care in the Vhembe District. The new hospital boasts the latest in medical technology and would not be out of place in any of the world's top cities. Set to become one of the main drivers of the local economy, the facility will provide employment for hundreds of highly skilled people.

Visitors who attended Friday night's opening function were taken on a tour through the three-storey building and were left in awe. The top floor plays host to three operating theatres, where teams of specialists can perform complex operations with access to advanced medical equipment.

Mr Ngange Nongogo (Summit Africa shareholder and chairman of the Crestcare Zoutpansberg Hospital board of directors) addresses the guests during last Friday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo: Madeleen Erasmus.

The design of the theatres, as well as just about every other aspect of the hospital, is carefully thought out, and the architects clearly benefited from years of experience in this field. The theatres have big, sealed windows, allowing natural light from the outside to flow in and create a friendlier setting. This also assists the specialists and staff members, who often have to spend hours on end performing complex operations.

“The number of working elevators in Louis Trichardt has now tripled,” one of the visitors joked on Friday night. This is, however, not far from the truth. Nothing is left to chance, and everything is carefully planned to avoid interruptions. Two generators are on standby for when load-shedding kicks in, one just powering the essential equipment. Massive tanks store water for the periods when the municipal supply is not available.

Adjacent to the theatres, the intensive-care and high-care wards are situated. This means a short trip to where a team of highly qualified staff is waiting. On the floor below is a neo-natal intensive-care unit, along with a 10-bed ICU/high-care ward, where each patient has access to advanced monitoring equipment. Specialist ICU wards for babies have also been provided.

One of the main features of the Crestcare Zoutpansberg Hospital is the 14-bed maternity ward. Here, mothers can expect the best treatment and equipment to deliver their newborn as safely as possible.

The 10-bed high-care ward boasts modern equipment, allowing patients to
be monitored around the clock by a team of specialist staff.

Currently, the new hospital will be operating adjacent to and in tandem with the old private hospital, and a period of integration will follow. Renovations will commence in March 2024. According to Ms Anneke Stroebel, the hospital's manager, their license provides for a 92-bed facility. The old facility only made provision for 32 beds and one theatre. The old hospital will gradually be converted into consulting rooms and offices for administrative functions.

Services such as providing food for the dozens of patients are also well catered for. The new hospital boasts a modern and fully equipped kitchen, capable of delivering meals to 92 or more patients three times a day. On the ground floor, a little restaurant (Crestcafe) is already operational, where delicious coffee, snacks, and even ice cream can be ordered.

Even in the administration of the hospital the latest technology is being used. According to Mr Deon Krüger, executive director of Crestcare, underpinning the ethos of patient-centric care and engagement with a state-of-the-art hospital-information-management system was important. “This will allow for a fully intuitive user interface that allows patients to pre-admit and submit all required information, drastically reducing two components of normal hospital admissions, one being the reduction in wait-time for admission, and two being maximum integration to a world-class enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for billing and related administration and financial accounting. The net effect of the system is reduced time and effort required for the patient and doctor from admission to discharge,” he said.

Mr Fanie van Zyl, facility manager at the Crestcare Zoutpansberg Hospital, photographed in one of the delivery rooms.

During Friday night's function, the effects of this new medical facility on the local economy were discussed. The existing 32-bed hospital already provided jobs for more than 100 people. The new hospital will gradually fill the existing beds, hoping to achieve a 70% bed occupancy in a year's time. This will also mean that the staff complement will increase dramatically, but this will happen in stages.

The new hospital has, however, already attracted the services of many specialists, such as orthopaedic surgeons, psychiatrists, cardiologists, general surgeons, an ear, nose and throat specialist, ophthalmologists, dermatologists, gynaecologists, urologists, and a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Some specialists will also employ their own staff, which adds to the impact it has on the local job market. The hospital also opens increased opportunities to expand allied health professional services such as audiologists, psychologist, podiatrist, dieticians, orthotist/prosthetist, physiotherapists, social workers, speech and language therapists, and occupational therapy.

The secondary effects on the local economy are also worth noting. The new hospital outsources certain functions such as security and procures many of the products used locally.

For many residents, the new hospital means that long and often dangerous trips to access medical facilities in the cities will no longer be necessary. Because of the modern facility, the need to travel to Pretoria or Johannesburg to access specialist treatment will decrease as these doctors can perform complex operations locally.

The hospital celebrated its 22nd bithday the first week of November. Friday night also marked an important milestone for the team who had a dream 25 years ago to start their hospital. In around 1998, a company was registered, and a short while later, the old maternity home on the corner of Cilliers and Joubert Street in Louis Trichardt was purchased. On November 8, 2001, the first patient was admitted to the 12-bed sub-acute clinic, and the first baby was born here on November 15 that year.

Since then, the Zoutpansberg hospital has reached many milestones. After obtaining the necessary licenses, the first operation in the newly built theatre was performed in October 2006. In November 2015, an additional 10-bed day-care unit was added.

The need for a more modern hospital with state-of-the-art equipment was evident, and in 2020, the Department of Health gave the green light for a new building. The cost of such a project was excessive, and the hospital's board members realised that they would have to reach out to other funders. In March 2022, a new partner, Summit Africa, was present at the sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of the construction process.



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Anton van Zyl

Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.


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