New Somerset Hospital Opens New Upgraded Psychiatric Unit | Western Cape Government


New Somerset Hospital Opens New Upgraded Psychiatric Unit

22 August 2011

Through the recent infrastructure improvements, New Somerset Hospital continues to improve the quality of services rendered to its patients. The hospital's newly upgraded Psychiatric Unit was officially opened today by Theuns Botha, the Minister of Health in the Western Cape.

Approximately one year ago, planning commenced to upgrade New Somerset Hospital's Psychiatric Ward from a four-bed unit to the current ten-bed Psychiatric Unit. The location of the old ward was not conducive as it was located close to the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Room, with an inadequate bed capacity due to the consistent growth in the hospital's patient numbers.

In his address, the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said: "Drug abuse in this Province has reached staggering levels, and on one level it is a tragedy that we have to expand our Psychiatry Unit to provide for the patient increase resulting from substance abuse. Half of the psychiatry admissions at New Somerset Hospital are either directly related to substance abuse or have substance abuse as a contributing factor."

"To date, the Psychiatry Unit at New Somerset Hospital has functioned mainly as an acute in-patient unit with an average of ten patients per day. The increase in bed numbers in the new unit - from four to twelve - will make a significant difference."

The new Psychiatric Unit accommodates up to 13 patients (seven males and five females), and one single room for a more aggressive patient (male or female). Funded by the Department of Transport and Public Works, the estimated cost to upgrade the Unit amounted to approximately R900 000. Renovations to the ward commenced in October 2010 and were completed in July 2011.

The new unit staffs four professional nurses, four enrolled nurses (one per shift), one mental health nurse and one medical officer, while specialist support and outreach services are received from Valkenberg Hospital. The substantial improvement of the unit and its staffing also enable patients to be treated and served in a manner which respects their human rights and affords them the appropriate dignity and respect.

New Somerset Hospital offers a 72-hour psychiatric observation service. According to the Mental Health Act, all acute patients are involuntary admitted for a 72-hour observation. The majority of the patients admitted present with drug-induced psychosis, such as "tik".

The purpose of the 72-hour assessment is to ascertain the cause of the patient's symptoms. Patients are assessed daily by the family medicine doctor, psychiatric trained registered nurse and a psychiatrist. Special investigations are done to ensure that there is no treatable medical condition giving rise to symptoms. Most substance intoxicated patients would recover from their intoxication in this period. Those patients requiring further involuntary treatment would be transferred to a designated psychiatric hospital for further management.

About New Somerset Hospital:

  • New Somerset Hospital is a 334-bed predominantly regional hospital.
  • It has two district hospitals, three Community Health Centres (CHCs) and ten clinics in its drainage area (ie New Somerset Hospital is the referral regional hospital to public health facilities in the Langa, Bonteheuwel, Vanguard, Du Noon, Milnerton and Blouberg areas).
  • New Somerset Hospital provides district and regional health hospital care and provides support services to the primary healthcare clinics in the Western sub-district.
  • The Hospital out-patients section provides specialist outpatient services only. General out-patient services are provided at the primary healthcare facilities in the area.
  • The hospital further provides a full ARV referral service to the CHC ARV clinics. The scope of clinical services include adult and neonatal high-care units, an endoscope unit, maternity services, a day theatre, psychiatric seclusion facilities and an ARV centre.
  • The staffing profile consists of 542 staff members including doctors, nurses and other staff members such as administrative and other specialists.
  • New Somerset Hospital celebrated 150 years of existence in 2009.

Issued by: Directorate: Communications for the Western Cape Department of Health.

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Ethne Julius
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