As a sign of unity, a single burning candle on a birthday cake in the shape of the number one was blown out to mark the first anniversary of the public/private partnership (PPP) at Settlers Hospital.
As part of the R600-million deal signed by the Eastern Cape Department of Health and Nalithemba Hospitals to upgrade Settler's Hospital and Port Alfred Hospital, Settlers now boasts a private wing which accomodates 32 patients.
Stethoscopes and medical uniforms were put aside as doctors, nurses, allied health workers, and community members gathered at Godlonton Hall to celebrate a partnership aimed at improving healthcare for the greater Grahamstown community. They introduced the new hospital manager for the private sector, Darlene De Vos, and the new ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr Graham van der Meer. Irene Solomon, the night matron for NetCare and the emcee for the event, said, “The more specialists we attract the less people will have to go to Port Elizabeth for specialised care.” She also paid tribute to the previous hospital manager of the private sector, Elliot Kula.
Solomon said that over the past year, the PPP has resulted in skills transfers and increased resources within the hospital. She encouraged the staff to stay with the project and to support it. “We are here to serve the community and patients, not one another,” she said. In closing the event, an enthused Solomon said, “I hope the hospital will have a gynaecologist and an orthopaedic surgeon soon.”
At the end of her first day on the job, De Vos said, “I am excited and a bit anxious, but it will be exciting implementing the partnership.” She said she hopes to see the implementation succeed in the future. “I desire that the community of Grahamstown have a facility where they can have an excellent healthcare facility without going to Port Elizabeth or East London.”
In paying tribute to the staff that made the partnership a success, Solomon said, “We salute the staff for the many dedicated late nights of hard work.”