By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
St. Luke hospital which lies in the bushy area along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway just before Lupane has become the beacon of health service provision in Matebeleland North Province. The Hospital which is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Bulawayo is also a designated provincial hospital for Matebeleland North Province. The hospital does not stop to grow as witnessed by many projects taking place so as to improve the welfare of patients. St. Luke has benefited from the Government of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health solar project initiative that was installed to provide power to the institution. The hospital experienced ceaseless power outages before the government’s intervention with a huge solar project that will sustain the institution’s power supply.
St. Luke’s hospital administrator, Mrs. Geralding Jongwe said at one point in 2019 the hospital had to go for three months without electricity which compromised the running of the hospital.
“We had to rely on a generator that gobbles 20 litres an hour which is very expensive for the hospital as it has to run for 24 hours. Through the plight we have been posing to the Ministry of Health and Child Care they came on board and assisted us with the solar project,” said Jongwe.
Jongwe said the solar project supplies power for the rest of the hospital except running water pumps. Although it does not supply power for the water reservoirs, the project contributes a great deal to the well-being of the hospital by cutting costs especially of electricity bills. She said the hospital was very much grateful to the government as this project meant continuous provision of the health services due to the availability of power.
“With the little that we have, we will be able to address the water issues by installing the solar water pumping system so as to provide uninterrupted water supply to the hospital,” She said.
Jongwe said the solar project is among many other projects being carried out at St. Luke hospital to further improve the situation of patients and staff. The coming of Covid-19 means that things will not remain the same in many sectors. Hence, the infrastructural development at St. Luke’s includes upscaling conditions for dealing with Covid-19, completion of an out patients’ department, a theatre with two sections, new classroom block for the school of nursing and three staff houses.
Two staff houses built at the hospital.
Jongwe said most of the infrastructural construction at the place was courtesy of Africa Project Ubuntu Trust who sourced funds to support the development of the hospital. According to Jongwe, construction of the Out Patients Department was a project for the government which has been lying idle for 15 years before the Archdiocese of Bulawayo engaged Africa Project to take over the project and complete it.
“Management saw it fit that if this project was completed it would be of great help in dealing with patients. So the Church engaged Africa Project Ubuntu Trust who gave us funding to complete this project,” Jongwe said.
Jongwe stated that the construction of an operating theatre will increase the efficacy of the hospital in managing operations and other complicated conditions. The hospital had only one operating theatre that had been condemned for a number of years and through Africa Project Ubuntu Trust, a state of the art theatre has been built. Africa Project Ubuntu Trust also facilitated the construction of a classroom block for the school of nursing and two staff houses while the hospital through its revolving fund built a third staff house.
She said: “With the new infrastructural development taking place, St. Luke Mission Hospital is totally having a new face lift and I am sure that in the next few years to come, the hospital will be a beacon in this region.”
In 2019, St. Luke suffered a blow when the Family Child Health (FCH) department block was gutted by fire and completely destroyed. For some time, the building was lying idle before Archbishop Alex Thomas chipped in to source funding for the renovation of the building. Jongwe said that they were very grateful for the support received from Archbishop Alex as the responsible authority who made sure that the building is renovated to resume the services it used to offer which were being now carried out in the maternity department.
“We are now waiting for furniture so that the services done here may continue. Currently the services are being offered in the maternity department which is already congested,” Jongwe stated.