Children’s hospital in need of grey-water system

Some of the young patients soaking up the sun at the Maitland Cottage Childrens Orthopaedic Hospital. The hospital is appealing to the public to assist with funds for a grey- water system.

The Maitland Cottage Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital is appealing to the public to help it raise money for a borehole and a grey-water system.

While Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has vowed that water will not be shut off to health facilities if Day Zero happens, the hospital wants to reduce its reliance on municipal water to cut its high water bill and navigate budget cuts.

Fund-raiser Josephine Joseph, said the hospital used a lot of water. “The operating theatre uses water and also uses steam to sterilise theatre equipment, of which the run-off is water which we are not yet able to collect for reuse. The patients in the hospital use water for drinking, bed sponge baths, or showering if the children are able to get up; and then also for daily ablution facilities,” Ms Joseph said.

Water is used in the sluicing room to clean bedpans and medical equipment, and staff use water in the course of their duties for cooking, cleaning and sterilisation.

Live-in staff and parents staying over with their children also use water for showering and other basic needs.

Lindiwe Nontshe, from the Eastern Cape, has just spent more than a month with her daughter at the hospital after her child was referred by Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

“Many of the parents have to be there to make the child feel comfortable. Without water, it will be very difficult and it would put everybody in a bad situation,” she said.

Ms Joseph said cutting the water bill meant more money could be spent on medical care for patients.

“The challenge is to find the funding to implement a water-supply system so that the hospital is part of a solution to the water crisis situation,” Ms Joseph said.

The 85-bed facility – which is partially subsidised by provincial government – provides free surgery, recuperative nursing and physiotherapy to children from poor communities.

“We are the only children’s orthopaedic hospital in South Africa, and so we receive children from all around the country. And some of the parents of those children who live outside of Cape Town sleep in at the hospital to assist with attending to their disabled children,” Ms Joseph said.

Fund-raising is handled by the Maitland Cottage Home Society. “We have raised 75% of the borehole costs,” said Ms Joseph, but she added that money was needed urgently for a grey-water-storage-and-recycling system.

One of the fund-raising projects is a golf day at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday March 22.

In a statement last week, Ms Zille said metro hospitals and health facilities would not have their water shut off if Day Zero hit.

“Despite this, the province has plans to guarantee alternative water for hospitals in the extremely unlikely event that taps have to be turned off at these facilities as well,” Ms Zille said.

She said Groote Schuur Hospital had halved its water consumption, using recycling, over the past seven years, and was saving 5 million litres annually.

Contact Fiona at 021 674 2090 or fund@mch.org.za to find out how you can help the Maitland Cottage Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital or visit www.mch.org.za for more information.