Children’s hospital to reopen
ADDINGTON Children’s Hospital is to be given a reprieve, just as it began to seem that the decay it had suffered since its closure in 1984 was terminal.
In the intervening years a number of attempts have been made to revive the Durban institution, but these became bogged down in red tape.
Yesterday Health MEC Sibongisemi Dhlomo announced in his biannual report on health care that the province had decided to reopen the facility after the appropriate renovations had been done. He said a donor was prepared to assist with the cost of rehabilitating and improving the hospital.
Health Department spokesman Chris Maxon confirmed the resolution.
“The decision was arrived at after consultation by the MECs of health, local government and economic development,” he said.
“The local municipality has granted permission for the building to be reused for its original purpose. It is envisaged that the quality of care that will be offered at this important provincial hospital will rival that offered by the Children’s Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town.
“While the funding model has not yet been made public, it is possible it will be a publicprivate partnership.”
In 1923, Durban Corporation councillor Mary Siedle instigated the passing of a resolution advocating the building of a children’s hospital in Durban. The proposal was welcomed with enthusiasm because there was no separate facility to treat children at Addington Hospital.
The city council agreed to provide a grant of £14 000 towards the project, on the understanding that the Natal Provincial Council match the amount, with a further £14 000 to be raised by the public. There was a ready response, and public donations eventually topped the £27 000 mark.
In addition to its financial contribution, the Natal Provincial Administration agreed to undertake the administration and maintenance of the hospital.
According to Professor Bill Winship, who was principal paediatrician for 21 years during the 1970s and 1980s, the hospital was a perfect environment for sick children.
“The wards and atrium of the building were embellished with delightful fountains, mosaics, statues, stained glass windows and tiles bearing the names of donors,” Winship said.
The late sculptor Mary Stainbank was commissioned to work on the interior.
A grand celebration was held when the hospital opened its doors in 1931, and a tablet was unveiled in the vestibule of the main entrance, thanking all those who had made the vision a reality.
For more than 50 years Addington Children’s Hospital catered to the city’s youth, before closing in 1984, when the patients were transferred to the main Addington Hospital.
A typographical error crept into an article by freelance writer Cate Rayner in last week’s edition. Rayner interviewed Professor Bill Winship on the condition known as intersex. The omission of a word may have led readers to believe that intersex women tend to approach their doctors when they menstruate.
The reverse is true. Because they lack ovaries, they do not menstruate.