Hospital car park concern

Work has begun on a new emergency centre at Victoria Hospital worth R68 million.

Construction has started on a new R68 million emergency centre at Victoria Hospital.

According to Health MEC, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the work should be done by November 2020 and will not impair services or patient flow.

But some in the surrounding community are unhappy that a nearby piece of open land, a “large green lung” according to one of them, is being turned into a car park.

It’s being built because the hospital’s current parking lot will be out of commission during construction of the new emergency centre.

The western fence line of the parking lot borders the pavement of Alphen Hill Road across from the hospital with blocks of flats on the other borders.

This information was not disclosed to the surrounding community.

At the end of January, commercial mediator and Chestnut Grove body corporate chairwoman, Judith February, said she had had to become an amateur sleuth, negotiating the City and Provincial labyrinth looking for answers about development plans for the field.

She said there had been no consultation with residents. She asked the Bulletin for help and then contacted acting CEO of the hospital, Patrick Jephtha, who, she said, had not responded to phone messages or emails.

Ward councillor Liz Brunette then told her it would be a temporary parking lot with 73 bays.

But Ms February feels there’s no need for it. She said the existing parking area between Bayview and Berwick roads was almost never full and if there was overflow then it was for about 20 to 30 cars or fewer. Using that parking lot, she said, would have less impact on an already depleted green lung.

Chestnut Grove lawyers sent a letter to the City, but, meanwhile, someone at Province referred them to the architect, Roland van Rosenveld.

He told the Bulletin that work on the car park should be done in six to eight weeks. It would be fenced and out of bounds to taxis, have a sliding gate and have a guard posted by the hospital. Lighting was also being investigated.

When the Bulletin visited the site last week at about 3pm, traffic was at a standstill and side roads were congested.

The City’s mayoral committee member for transport, Felicity Purchase, said there had been no public participation process because the area was zoned Transport Zone 2, which allowed for roads and public parking.

She said the 73 bays in the temporary parking lot would only be used by hospital staff, patients and visitors.

No trees would be removed, but the surface would be levelled and graded.

The City’s electricity department had yet to confirm whether approval had been granted for lighting and, if so, when it would be installed.

Ms Purchase said the site would be restored to its original condition once the parking lot was no longer needed.

Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Marian Nieuwoudt, said the Victoria Hospital property had been variously zoned but since December 2017 had been consolidated as a single Community Zone 2, which allowed the owner, the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, to run a hospital and permit additions and alterations.

The building plan for an emergency centre was submitted in September 2018 and approved on Thursday January 31.

Dr Mbombo said the current prefab emergency centre was too small to cope with increased patient numbers.

The hospital treats about 3000 patients a month.

According to Dr Mbombo, the main treatment area will increase from seven to 17 cubicles, with four resuscitation beds and a nebulisation area.

The observation and overnight ward will increase from eight beds to 18 with four resuscitation beds.

“The emergency centre and observation wards will have dedicated nurse and attendant stations, ablutions and service and ancillary spaces. It will be spacious, modern and more functional for staff and patients and will also reduce waiting times due to the increase in bed capacity,” she said.

Health department spokeswoman, Monique Johnston said: “Victoria Hospital’s emergency centre should be accessed by patients with urgent and life-threatening injuries or conditions, and for referral cases from the local clinics.”

Ms Johnston said there had been no heritage-related objections as the site of the new emergency centre was not deemed to have significant heritage value.

The Bulletin asked if an approved inspection authority (AIA) had been brought in to identify asbestos in the old building and coordinate its safe removal in terms of current asbestos regulations.

“The contract makes provision for the appointment of an asbestos removal specialist who will submit a method statement to be approved by the AIA for removal,” said Ms Johnston.

The Bulletin sent questions to the contractor Haw & Inglis regarding this and also to Mr Jephtha, asking if new technology would be incorporated into the design. They did not respond by the time this edition went to print.