The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: A Shining Beacon. . . Chitungwiza Hospital Raises the Bar

WALKING down the aisle of the female medical ward, better known by its designers as Ward 2, the light blue acrylic curtains are the first feature to attract the eye at Chitungwiza Central Hospital.

Behind the curtains are three lever-type beds different from the ordinary metal hospital beds found in most hospitals in Zimbabwe, which give extra comfort to patients, particularly those having problems with sleeping positions.

The grey and light blue beds can be adjusted to fit the patient's needs rather than traditional heaping of pillows behind one's back to add extra comfort.

Not to be outdone are the matching blue lockable cupboards strategically located beside the patient's bed.

One cannot leave the ward without noticing the new metal ceiling, bright hospital lighting, new serving trolleys and the flat screen televisions - turning the medical ward into a home away from home. That is the beauty of what Chitungwiza Hospital has become.

The hospital's chief executive, Dr Obadiah Moyo, said this new look among other touch-ups was made possible by assistance from the donor community and money from the Ministry of Finance under the targeted approach programme.

"That is the model which we want to use in all our wards."

"We are going to be refurbishing all the wards through the support from the donor community and also the Ministry of Finance. Let me also hasten to mention that where people see their monies being put to good use, they come and give further assistance. We are very open and transparent in all our dealings," said Dr Moyo.

Through the targeted approach, the hospital managed to replace all the 500 ordinary beds in the maternity, other general wards, observation room, annex and the intensive care unit with the three-lever beds.

These departments now await a repaint, ceilings, tiling, cupboards and curtains to match Ward 2.

Dr Moyo said his institution will continue to look for partners to spruce up the image of the hospital to compete with any private institution in the country.

In terms of equipment, the hospital has also equipped its eye unit with modern equipment, dental unit with a new dental chair with latest technologies, the renal unit and the mortuary has also been transformed into a state-of-the-art mortuary among other developments.

A coffee shop and a kiosk are part of the features on the outpatients' department - all in an effort to bring hope and confidence to patients that they will get high quality treatment. These are critical elements in the treatment of patients.

To the hospital's credit, most of the departments are equipped with 32-inch flat screen televisions for the benefit of patients as they wait patiently for their turn to be treated.

According to the hospital's policy, all patients should be served within 30 minutes of arrival or they lodge a complaint with the public relations department next to the outpatients.

However, the patient's charter is not stuck on the walls at the outpatients for patients to know their rights when they have been violated.

According to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, patients have rights when they enter an institution and these rights are spelled out in the patient's charter.

The patient's charter is supposed to be stuck on walls and should be printed in bold letters so it can be read from the benches instead of sticking it in offices or on a A4 page.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital was assessed by the Standards Association of Zimbabwe and was awarded an ISO 9001:2000 certificate being the first public institution in the country to get the certification.

"ISO is all about quality and its all about innovativeness. We work outside the box; we just do not wait for the Government to prop us but we also go out and look for funding from the corporate world. That's our attitude, our attitude is not to be shy of begging. We shall continue to beg as long as it is for our benefit," Dr Moyo said.

Apart from the refurbished wards and new equipment in the wards, Dr Moyo said the hospital is in the process of constructing a block of flats for senior staff and another block of classrooms for clinical officer training.

Construction of the buildings is almost complete and they are expected to be ready for occupation by May this year.

"Previously we used to take about 10 students every two years, now we are going to be taking 80 students per year for the clinical officers training programme. That is because of the support we are getting from the donor community," he said.

Despite the superior image of the institution, it is not spared from the problems of staffing and need for expansion just like other institutions in the country.

Dr Moyo said: "We are still at the 1980 levels of staff establishment while the workload has shot up. As a result of the quality of service that we are providing, naturally you find a lot of people want to come to be attended here and what that means is that we'll spend more resources than what we would have budgeted for."

He said the hospital needs more wards and bigger departments as the current facilities are cramped.

The hospital was recently allocated 20 hectares of land by Chitungwiza Municipality and is in the process of puttingup a concrete wall around the land.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital was built by Government 1984 to serve Harare's main satellite town, plus the Epworth area, the second largest satellite, as well as Seke and Chihota communal areas.

In 2006, the institution was upgraded to a central hospital from a district hospital meaning even other clinics outside its catchment area are now referring patients to the hospital.

This has created pressure for services at the health centre but to its credit it has remained one of best equipped medical facilities in Zimbabwe.

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