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Mater Dei, Masca set up COVID-19 wing

THE Medical Aid Society of Southern Africa (Masca) is leading an initiative to capacitate Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo to establish an isolation and treatment wing for coronavirus patients.

THE Medical Aid Society of Southern Africa (Masca) is leading an initiative to capacitate Mater Dei Hospital in Bulawayo to establish an isolation and treatment wing for coronavirus patients.


Masca has sent an SOS for $65 000 to purchase ventilators, while other donations in kind or labour are required to set up a fully-equipped COVID-19 treatment and isolation facility in the city.

Once completed, Mater Dei will become the only fully-functional medical facility to handle COVID-19 cases in Bulawayo following reports that Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital was ill-equipped.

“…The (Mater Dei) Hospital needs all the help it can get. Donations are called for, in cash, kind or labour. There will be a separate isolated COVID-19 ‘reception’ at Mater Dei so that no victims go to casualty. This is being renovated now,” a report on the SOS read.

“They are renovating/building a small isolation unit to manage the serious cases, so no one with the virus goes into the main building. There is no other proper facility in Bulawayo at this time. This is an emergency plan. We need US$65 000 for four ventilators that may be available.”

The Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital was identified as the main treatment centre for COVID-19 cases in Matabeleland, but a visit to the institution by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health revealed that the health institution was ill-equipped to handle infections of that magnitude.

“. . . We need to run oxygen and other facilities to essentially set up a new high dependency/intensive care unit. The staff canteen may be converted into a second isolation ward if required. Far from ideal, and if needed will require bathrooms. This is a second phase, but planned if the emergency escalates. The old ventilators are being serviced and prepared, but we will never have enough.”

Masca chairperson Gavin Stephens, who is also the planning committee chairperson of the Catholic-run medical institution said the renovations would be completed next week, funds permitting.

“We have started renovations and we hope the facility will be ready next week,” Stephens said yesterday, before appealing for funding to save lives as State-run health institutions have proven incapacitated to handle the pandemic.

Last week, the Bulawayo City Council (BCC) revealed that the local authority was still waiting for assistance from government to fully equip the Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital, months after submitting its list of requirements.

In a related development, Zimbabweans based in the diaspora have launched a crowdfunding campaign to mobilise protective gear for nurses and doctors who have downed tools for fear of contracting the deadly virus. Zimbabwe has recorded three confirmed COVID-19 cases and one death.

“This fundraiser will be to support the well-being of frontline healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses and allied workers,” the crowdfunding campaign by Freeman Chari, chairperson of Citizens Initiative, read.

“We believe they need protective gear. We want their food needs while at work taken care of so that they don’t have to leave the hospitals which could increase chances of transmission. We will also work on other citizen initiatives aimed at helping communities cope with the scourge including assisting the elderly with food so they shelter at home.”

Gweru City Council has also started renovating its Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) to be used by COVID-19 patients. The refurbishments came after the council received a donation of 600 bags of cement and 10 000 bricks from Chinese cement manufacturer Sino-Zimbabwe.

“We received 600 50kg bags of cement and 10 000 bricks from Sino-Zimbabwe to go towards the refurbishment of our IDH in preparation of the coronavirus,” said council spokesperson Vimbai Chingwaramusee. She added that council was considering closing vending markets to minimise the spread of the disease, whose global statistics as of yesterday stood at 486 948 cases and 22 025 deaths.