Bulawayo Metropolitan Province’s capacity to fight the Covid-19 pandemic has been boosted by the re-opening after 20 years, of Ekusileni Medical Centre with patients now being admitted starting last week.
The hospital premises are owned by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) and it was opened in 2000 before it closed in 2001.
Bulawayo’s acting provincial medical director, Dr Welcome Mlilo said the re-opening of the hospital was welcome and important for the city’s Covid-19 response.
“We welcome the re-opening of the hospital which admitted its first Covid-19 patients on Tuesday last week,” said Dr Mlilo.
Acting chief executive officer for the hospital Dr Absolom Dube confirmed said the institution was ready to handle more patients.
The hospital has been declared a national Covid-19 centre. The opening of the hospital will ease the pressure on other isolation centres in the city which were fast running out of bed space.
“We opened the hospital today and so far we have two Covid-19 patients that have been admitted. We have a capacity of about 70 beds but we will start by accommodating 20 patients because of limited staff and resources.
“This is just a starting point but we plan to increase our capacity to 200 beds in the near future. We have had various partners coming in to assist us with food as well as other resources,” he said.
Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs, Judith Ncube said the opening of the hospital was a huge development not only to the province but the entire nation. She said the success was a result of collective effort from various partners.
“This development means a lot to us as people of the city of Bulawayo. Opening of this hospital has been long overdue and we thank the President who saw it fit that the institution should finally start operating.
“The hospital won’t only offer services to the people of Bulawayo but the entire nation.
“There is an upsurge of cases of Covid-19 and existing facilities couldn’t handle the increasing number of patients anymore, hence the need for Ekusileni to start operating. It was going to be embarrassing if as a city we were going to run out of space to accommodate Covid patients.
“Ekusileni is a big institution and once fully operational it will bring huge relief to other hospitals and ensure improved health care service,” said Minister Ncube.
She added: “I would like to thank the private and public sector, individuals, churches and other stakeholders for their input in making the project a success. I would also like to thank the media fraternity for its extensive coverage through this entire journey right up to now when the hospital is finally open.”
Minister Ncube urged various stakeholders to continue supporting the hospital up until it operates at full capacity.
Ekusileni Medical Centre was closed 20 years ago when its equipment was declared obsolete.
The hospital, a brainchild of the late Vice President Dr Joshua Nkomo, had experienced a number of false starts and numerous efforts to reopen it had failed until last week.