The new Knysna Hospital Emergency Centre (EC) was officially opened, to the delight of the Knysna community, on Friday 28 March 2014 by the Western Cape Health Minister, Mr Theuns Botha. The EC boasts a modern design and contemporary layout and guarantees an improvement to services, quality of care and improved patient experience.
In his keynote address the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, said: “Western Cape Government has invested an unprecedented R2,7 billion in health infrastructure across the province over the last five years, of which new infrastructure includes seven clinics and community day centres, seven EMS stations, five forensic pathology laboratories and two district hospitals.” Minister Botha said: “Modernising the infrastructure and provision of world class facilities has played an important role in improving the work environment for staff and improving the quality of care patients receive. In the Eden District over the past five years the Department completed twelve capital projects at a total expenditure of R218 million. Of the twelve facilities, three are new – the George Hospital Forensic Pathology Laboratory, Kwanokuthula Community Day Centre and ambulance station and Knysna Witlokasie Clinic.”
Knysna Hospital (90-bed level 1 facility) serves two sub-districts, Knysna sub-district (population of 69 000) and Bitou sub-district (population of 49 000). The town of Knysna, with its population growth rate of 2,77%, experiences a proportional rate of growth in its casualty patient headcount. This town has the highest population density per km2 in the Eden District, which accounts for many of the burden of disease challenges seen, i.e. the highest tuberculosis and HIV incidence rate in the district and amongst the highest in the province. Bitou on the other hand is the fastest growing sub-district in Eden with an average growth rate of 5.22%. The R37.7 million EC upgrade is based on the hospital emergency headcount statistics for 2009/2010, which demonstrated that Knysna Hospital produced patient headcounts that ranked first in the Eden District and seventh of all district hospitals in the province. There has been a steady growth of emergency cases, and the sub-district was forced to employ creative measures to maintain these growing patient headcounts. The new emergency centre and admissions upgraded this unit from a 4-bed unit to a 14-bed unit with dedicated service areas. This new 160m2 surface area addition consists of a 3-cot rehydration unit, a 4-bed nebulisation unit, a 2-bed resuscitations unit, a 5-bed major ward and a 4-bed overnight/minors ward. The separate triage and 3-room consultations area front room, as well as the isolation room and safety observation room, fracture unit and decontamination unit is a vast improvement over the previous 1-room approach.
From the initial design in 2009, the plan for the emergency centre has gone through various development phases. The final and most dramatic changes to the plan came in 2010/11 and were a result of a departmental focus on emergency centres, looking at improved patient flow and quality in patient services and their functionality. The Acute Emergency Case Load Policy (AECLP) was developed, various patient flow workshops were held, equipment was updated and standardised, waiting times audits were designed and training ensued.