R279 million of Acute Psychiatric Unit projects currently under construction | Western Cape Government


R279 million of Acute Psychiatric Unit projects currently under construction

18 April 2024

R279 million of Acute Psychiatric Unit projects currently under construction in the Western Cape

Today, 18 April 2024, Western Cape Minister of Health and Wellness, Professor Nomafrench Mbombo, returned to Eerste River Hospital to inspect the progress being made in the construction of its Acute Psychiatric Unit (APU).

With a total budget of R86 million being allocated to the project, it is anticipated to be completed by the end of January 2025 and will provide the hospital with a dedicated area to treat mental healthcare patients. At Eerste River Hospital, its APU will have 30 beds supported by a multidisciplinary team.

Currently, all mental health patients who may pose as a risk to themselves are seen at emergency centres and are placed under observation until the correct course of treatment is decided. This involves either treating the patient at the hospital in a specific ward until they have recuperated or referring them to a specialised psychiatric facility.

However, with our emergency centres and hospital bedspace capacity being put under strain, building dedicated APUs not only alleviates service pressures but also allows for a safe and tranquil space for a mental healthcare patient to recover.

This is why the Department of Health and Wellness is investing R279 million in constructing APUs across the province. In addition to Eerste River, the following projects are under construction:

  • Caledon Hospital APU at a cost of R13 million;
  • Khayelitsha District Hospital APU at a cost of R87 million; and
  • New Somerset Hospital APU at a cost of R93 million.

Speaking to the impact the APU will have on services in the future was Dr Fanie Serfontein, who is a medical specialist at the hospital, “Eerste River hospital provides a comprehensive service to mental health care users for a huge drainage area which includes Eerste River, Blackheath, Blue Downs, Delft and a part of Kuilsriver.  There is a huge burden of mental health disease and we are proud to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to our patients. Our team consists for nursing staff, clinical staff, a social worker, psychology and an occupational therapist and we strive to give our patients the best possible care. The hospital’s current infrastructure is restrictive in some ways, but that will change with the new APU.”

Dr Serfontein continued, “The new purpose designed unit will improve the patient experience and will provide patients and staff with a therapeutic environment where patients can be treated with dignity and in a beautiful and safe environment.  There will be better facilities to engage with families and for families to interact with their loved ones during their admission.  We are both grateful for and excited at the prospect of the new facility as it will be directly beneficial to a vulnerable community who is dependent on us for care and support.”

Minister Mbombo concluded the oversight visit by saying that, “The four APU projects will greatly improve our healthcare system’s capacity for mental health patients and also reduce the pressure being placed on our hospital platform. In addition, these dedicated spaces will contribute to combatting the stigma of mental health conditions as these patients will be given the space to recuperate. However, it is crucial that we remember that mental health requires a whole-of-society approach and that all stakeholders are needed to reduce the upstream factors affecting mental health in South Africa.”