New Forensic Pathology Institute Facility is nearing completion
The Western Cape Government Department of Health’s project to build the new Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute (OFPI) is 87% complete. The R281 million project is a larger, purpose-built, modern forensic pathology facility that is located at the entrance to Groote Schuur Hospital. The project is expected to reach practical completion in mid-2020, if everything goes according to plan. Once it is complete, the Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute will provide Level 4 forensic services aimed at extracting, analysing and preserving the integrity of evidence for use by the criminal justice system.
Although various contractual delays were experienced and resulted in revision to the practical completion date, good progress has been made. The two-story building is closed up and external windows, shop fronts, doors and the roof is completed. Current construction activities under way include the installation of electrical and mechanical services; internal finishes; and construction of parking areas and external landscaping.
The facility will include twenty-six autopsy tables, four dissection suites that will have six tables in each, as well as two teaching and training dissection suites. There will be three hundred and sixty refrigerated body spaces, one hundred and fifty admission fridges, and two hundred and fifty dispatch fridges. In addition, the building will be able to accommodate up to one hundred visitors to the bereavement centre per day; up to ten waiting undertakers; and up to twenty students at a time. The building is distinctively divided into three work areas, namely the wet area, transitional area and the dry area. These areas will be access controlled and individuals will only be able to enter if they meet the requirements. This will enable the functional aspects of the building to be clean and safe for staff and the public. Activities which present the highest risk to health and safety are all located within the R3 zone.
Consideration for family privacy has been looked at in a serious light. Therefore, the facility has a separate entrance and exit for visitors to the bereavement centre. Families will not exit the building through the same entrance point, they will exit the building and go through a reflection garden. A separate entrance is also provided for staff, students, undertakers and SAPS to ensure safety, security, privacy and dignity.
“Currently the Salt River Forensic Pathology Facility is overburdened, it is unable to meet the needs of the Western Cape people. This 10 399 square metre lab will provide better integration of the work of the Provincial Forensic Pathology Service and that of the National Health Laboratory Services. The facility will support the University of Cape Town’s academic training field, enhance service delivery and bring dignity to our people” says Minister Nomafrench Mbombo.