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Built in 1984 to service Harare’s main satellite town and its surrounds, Chitungwiza Hospital has undergone a major metamorphosis, becoming an unmatched public health institution of excellence, offering services that were previously a preserve for private patients.

From humble beginnings when it was only a district hospital, the facility has grown in leaps and bounds, attaining ISO certification in 2008 (first public institution in the country to get this), scooping the coveted Standards Association of Zimbabwe Service of the Year award and securing its place in the running for the Sadc Annual Quality Awards 2014.

The major facelift has seen the hospital, which serves at least three million people, transforming into a first-class facility, which is in sharp contrast to the situation at most public health institutions, which are lying in ruins.

Walking through the well-lit clean wards which are neatly adorned with three lever-type beds, one cannot help but marvel at the amount of work and sheer dedication that has gone into the refurbishments.

“We want the patients to be comfortable for the duration that they are here. Health delivery is a complete package and there are no shortcuts or room for slackening,” said the hospital’s chief executive, Obadiah Moyo.

During a recent tour of the facility, hospitalised patients reclined comfortably in their beds, with some keenly following their favourite programmes on the flat screen television sets that are in every ward.

The turquoise and white paneling exudes a calming effect which is both soothing and refreshing in a place associated with pain and death.

“As an ISO certified institute, we strive for excellence and it is our desire to keep abreast with modern medical technology which will enable us to keep our vision and provide quality health care services,” Moyo said.

As we dash through the wards he takes time to make brief stopovers at patients’ bed and chats them up. One would ordinarily dismiss it as a public relations stunt, but it seems he has made quite a few friends and knows them by name.

In the female ward, an old lady upon noticing him grins widely and waves frantically to attract his attention.

He waves back and gently tells her he will come back and she relaxes back into her pillow nodding her head.

However, all these developments which include the joint venture partnership (JVP) initiative, whereby the hospital has managed to improve the provision of radiology, laboratory, renal, pharmacy and funeral services, will be surpassed by a multi-million dollar project which is currently on the cards.

As part of its strategic plan, Chitungwiza Central Hospital is expected to build a state-of-the-art hospital which will replace the current 500-bed facility which can no longer cope with the big number of patients who arrive daily for treatment at the health institution.

“The new building will benefit people of Chitungwiza and surrounding areas who cannot afford treatment at private health institutions,” said Moyo.

The building of the new hospital will commence once funding arrangements have been finalised through investors and after government has given the green light.

“The Minister of Health, David Parirenyatwa recently confirmed that his office had received the new hospital construction proposal which he would present to cabinet for approval,” he said.

After completion, Chitungwiza Central Hospital will offer five-star treatment to its patients, with a private wing and public wing.

“We are trying to create a five-star hospital for the socially disaantaged patients,” Moyo said.

“We are doing it for those who do not afford bills charged by private hospitals. We have to be innovative.”

A medical village would also be built for the staff complement of 1 600 that include 546 nurses, 90 doctors and students.

However, there has been a lot of concern over the development with some people saying they feared the hospital was now being privatised and that costs would go up.

The chief executive officer however allayed such fears, saying the institution was still operating under government public hospitals service delivery guidelines but was working with corporate players to ensure that the public accessed quality service.

“The hospital is a public hospital offering services at par with those offered by private institutions but at affordable fees,” he said.

Moyo said the little funding that they received from government was not enough, leaving them with no option but to engage innovative ideas in order to stay afloat, survive and save lives.

“The hospital thus resorted to operating in partnership with the corporate sector through Joint Venture Partnerships [JVPs],” he said.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard