By NQOBANI NDLOVU
BULAWAYO’s Ekusileni Medical Centre, the brainchild of the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, has begun admitting severe COVID-19 cases.
The facility was reopened last month, with two patients, after its closure more than 15 years ago.
Upon reopening, authorities revealed that the hospital was not in a position to admit patients who required intensive or high dependency treatment due to lack of equipment.
In an interview yesterday, Ekusileni chief executive Absalom Dube said the hospital, after taking delivery of the necessary equipment, was now admitting critical patients.
“We are now also handling severe cases. We have received some equipment, some of it is still coming. However, we still have nurse staffing challenges,” Dube said.
When it was reopened, other health delivery facilities were overwhelmed as the country was witnessing a upsurge in COVID-19 infections and fatalities.
Bulawayo was at the time classified as a COVID-19 hotspot.
However, there has been a drop in infections after the extension of the level four COVID-19
Ekusileni was identified as a COVID-19 centre alongside the Catholic-run Mater Dei, United Bulawayo Hospital, Old Bartley Memorial Block and the council-run Thorngrove Infectious Diseases Hospital.
Critics have questioned government’s seriousness concerning the reopening of Ekusileni after several false starts.
In early 2019, government entered into an agreement with Sharda Group of Institutions to resuscitate the hospital and recruited personnel in preparation for reopening of the facility.
The deal was cancelled in March 2020 under unclear circumstances.
In November 2019, Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube said government was considering transforming Ekusileni into a cancer referral medical facility.
In 2020, government announced that Ekusileni would be transformed into a specialist research institution under the National University of Science and Technology, with the latter tasked with operationalising the facility.
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