Construction of Eerste River APU in full swing and making good progress
With mental health and the wellness of our communities being a priority for the Department of Health and Wellness, I was pleased with the progress being made with the construction of the Eerste River Acute Psychiatric Unit (APU).
Of the total project budget of R86.002 million, R58.658 million has been allocated for the construction of the 30-bed unit. So far, the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.
During the site visit, the contractor detailed how the construction has brought in many stakeholders from the community with more than R45 million already being budgeted on local suppliers and subcontractors. In addition to this, it was negotiated that a portion of the labour utilised also be from the immediate area. To this end, almost 20 members of the labour force is made up of local residents of which 4 are women. This is a project that not only supports the wellbeing of residents but can be seen to support the livelihoods of the community.
Once the construction is complete, the new APU will greatly assist with the capacity of Eerste River Hospital. On average, the facility experiences approximately 60 mental health patients on a daily basis – an occupancy rate that is double the current design of the hospital.
Despite the fact that the new unit will add much-needed space for its operations, the occupancy rate of Eerste River speaks to the increasing pressure of the mental health burden being felt in our communities – which is only worsening as a result of declining socio-economic circumstances and substance abuse.
Dr Adele Anthony, Medical Manager of Eerste River Hospital, detailed: “The hospital is operating in a community that is growing and where the demand for services is increasing. But we have also seen how the mental health burden has also expanded. We are pleased with the construction of the APU which will see a designated therapeutic space being built where specialists, doctors and multi-disciplinary teams can have a greater impact on patients. This will have a positive effect on service delivery, as patients usually wait long periods before they can be treated. By having this unit, we will also see recovery being boosted as a result.”
Minister Nomafrench Mbombo added: “As a department, we take the burden of mental health seriously which is why we are forging ahead with the construction of key infrastructure. Eerste River forms part of an intricate network that is being tested by the societal pressures that are beyond our control. However, I look forward to the benefits that this APU will bring to the community and the amazing work it will do in the future.
But for units like these to truly be effective and work optimally, we as Health and Wellness cannot do it alone. This is why we are premising our service delivery on the whole-of-society and whole-of-government approaches. Health is truly everyone’s business.
Listen to Minister Nomafrench Mbombo's statement on the Eerste River Construction in English and isiXhosa: