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Life Healthcare to build a R200 mln medical facility, alleviating bed shortage in the city

A NEW R200 million private hospital is to be built in Hilton, a move that will tackle a hospital bed shortage in Pietermaritzburg which has seen patients being transferred to Durban for treatment.

It will initially contain five operating theatres and 94 hospital beds, and is likely to give some relief to patients who are often turned away from local hospitals.

“Pietermaritzburg is currently experiencing a shortage of hospital beds. Other private hospitals in the area are running at very high occupancies and often have to turn patients away,” said Francois Theron, senior business development manager for the Life Healthcare Group, the company developing the hospital.

Pietermaritzburg resident Brendon Longhurst has first hand experience of the shortage of hospital beds in the capital.

“When I was diagnosed with severe malaria last year there were no beds available in Pietermaritzburg or Howick, or at any hospital all the way to Hillcrest,” he said.

“The only bed available was at St Augustine’s in Durban and I had to be taken there by ambulance late at night. I was told by the nursing sister that the shortage of beds is a common occurrence in Pietermaritzburg.”

His wife Linda had to travel to Durban every day to visit her seriously ill husband. Attempts to get him moved to a Pietermaritzburg hospital were unsuccessful. Linda said that a Pietermaritzburg nurse had told her at the time that in extreme circumstances they had been forced to send patients all the way to Richards Bay when there were no beds available in Durban hospitals.

The new hospital will offer general surgery, orthopaedics, maternity and paediatrics, and the development will also include a specialist consulting block.

A medical centre and GP consulting block next to the hospital are also to be developed.

Situated on 26 000 square metres of land on the corner of Hilton and Monzali drives, near the turn-off to Hilton on the southbound side of the N3, the new medical centre will be visible from the highway once the three-storey hospital has been built.

Earthworks on the site began last month and building work will start in November. The hospital is expected to be open by April 2015.

The hospital is a development by JSE-listed Life Healthcare Group in association with local developer André Voigts.

“Hilton is one of the fastest growing suburbs in the Pietermaritzburg area with various developments planned — residential, office blocks, retail and light commercial — in the next couple of years,” said Theron. “We believe that Hilton will be an ideal location for a new hospital.”

Theron said that the hospital has the support of local doctors and specialists, many of whom will become part of a 20% shareholding reserved for medical professionals.

“A3 architects will use their latest software to plan and design the hospital, and it will have a look and feel similar to our Beacon Bay hospital in the Eastern Cape.”
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