Editor – Re: Sorry state of Ladysmith Provincial Hospital.
The sorry state of Ladysmith Provincial Hospital is only making headlines now after its existence of over 70 years.
It was originally a military hospital when Ladysmith had a military camp to train young soldiers to assist England in the Second World War.
When the war ended in August 1945, it would have been redundant; so the authorities at that time decided to convert it into a provincial hospital to serve all “colours” of our population.
The wards in the “Whites” section were all in solid brick and the ones for the “Non-Whites” were the wooden structures.
Part of these have still survived to this day.
I was in the employ of the hospital on a part-time basis from July 1966 and was requested (with three other elderly doctors) to cease working from May 1, 2015.
During these 49 years, I experienced all of the transformations of the hospital. Some years after working there, I noticed overcrowding in the “Non-Whites” section.
I suggested to the medical superintendent that he should purchase the vacant land adjacent to the present Ward 7 and the Paediatric Ward. He told me “it will NEVER happen” because it is for white habitation (and it did happen).
He showed me a blue book with plans to build a hospital to cater exclusively for the African population (akin to Madadeni Hospital in Newcastle) to be built in Ezakheni. Once the Africans were removed to Ezakheni, there would be plenty of space for the coloured and Indian populous!!!
Around 1974/75, the present operation theatres, radiology and laundry section were erected.
It was built on “apartheid” lines. Local medical personnel were never involved in the planning / erection of the structure. It could never function on strict apartheid lines from the time of inception to this day.
Some specialists wanted customised theatres and these were now used for patients of all races.
Many years later, the problem of overcrowding was becoming serious.
I once again suggested to the superintendent of that time to negotiate with the authorities for erection of a new prison outside the town precincts.
Then the present prison building could be demolished or modified to make place for more wards. He never even bothered. I have a suggestion, but this too will be laughed at.
The authorities should urgently erect about 10 wards to be attached to St Chad’s Clinic; these should cater for Medical, Paediatric and Psychiatry. Much later, surgical facilities could also be provided at that place. It would effectively be an extension of the present hospital. There is a vast population in the Ezakheni and Ekuvukeni areas; the people there would benefit immensely instead of travelling all the way to town. These are my views.
If action is taken immediately, it could see some progress within a year. The usual excuse of no money is nonsense. There is plenty money in the country if all the corruption is stopped at municipal, provincial and central government level.