Nestled in Hammanskraal about 50km north of Pretoria, the 551-bed hospital now boasts a bevy of healthcare professionals specialising in everything from HIV to non-communicable diseases like mental health. The district hospital today is a far cry from its humble beginnings 60 years ago in the hands of a group of Baptist Missionary Society doctors, remembers local leader from the Kekana tribal authority Silas Kekana.
“The facility was started in a backyard garage by missionaries who were very close and caring to the locals, who were travelling for more than 30 kilometres from as far as Moretele village in the North West,” Kekana tells OurHealth.
Retired health promoter Phineas Mayisela attended the recent 60-year celebrations for the hospital and said he still recalls he and other health workers from the former Bophuthatswana homeland still had to use private cars to transport patients.
Patient Mmapelo Radipadi, 70, also remembers when the hospital had previously been dubbed “the hospital of death.”
“During the 1980s, we dubbed this facility ‘the hospital of death’ and even protest for its shutdown because of lack of resources,” Radipadi remembers.
Today, the hospital is slated for an upgrade as part of Gauteng Provincial Government’s Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation programme, reported the province in late 2015. The renovations are expected to tackle rusted water pipes, leaking sewers and aging electrical wiring.
Other Gauteng hospitals slated for similar upgrades include the Sebokeng, Tambo Memorial, Kalafong and Dr Yusuf Dadoo hospitals.