Fort England raises the standard‏

By Jantina Kamminga and Youlendree Appasamy


Machine operator Arnold Bowles, nurse Dunyiswa Mathanga and dr. Roger Walsh with the hydroblaster. Photo Sarah Kingon


Life is improving for patients and staff at Fort England Psychiatric Hospital. According to the hospital’s CEO Roger Walsh various new equipment along with renovations to aging infrastructure has breathed new life into the hospital. The fitness of patients and staff is a priority for the hospital, Walsh said. A gym has been recently created for use by patients and staff. On weekdays patients have a walking group and the tennis courts have been resurfaced. The tuckshop has recently undergone renovation and now includes healthier food options. Therapy projects which have been spruced up include a gardening project, art therapy, woodwork projects where furniture is restored for money, pottery and a carwash project.

“A lot of these projects give the patients a small amount of income, too, which they can spend at the tuckshop,” Walsh said. A crèche, Carebears, was started at the hospital in September last year. The crèche offers day-care and after-care assistance for toddlers aged one to seven years old. Nosibulelo Mplatyi is the manager, with four support staff to help her with the little ones. 27 children are under Mplatyi’s care.

Maintenance improvements include five energy-efficient heat pumps and a 5 000 litre hot water tank at each ward. “Before we got this tank, only the first ten to fifteen patients had a hot shower and now they all have a hot shower,” said Walsh. “It will save the hospital about half a million rand a year which we can then use for other quality improvement projects to benefit patients and staff.” The newly-bought Hydroblaster injects water and air under extremely high pressure through sanitation pipes, so as to easily remove blockages and keep piping clear.

Dunyiswa Mathanga, Quality Assurance Co-ordinator for Fort England, has been working at the hospital for 12 years. Both Mathanga and Walsh say that patient health issues have been difficult to deal with in the past.
“We’ve had enormous problems with the sewage and the blocking up and backing up of sanitation,” said Walsh.

Besides maintenance improvements, the patient wards have improved too. Flat-screen televisions were placed in common room areas and new concrete benches placed outside ward areas.
Catherine Letcher, secretary of Friends of Fort England organisation, definitely sees the changes at Fort England. “Dr Walsh has made positive changes for staff and patients. It has been a bonus for him to have joined the hospital”, she said.

The crèche and other projects have been funded in part by the newly-instated hospital board, which ensures that the hospital runs at its most efficient. “We’ve sat and we’ve planned, we have looked at supplies. It has been difficult because we do not always have the skills internally so we’ve looked externally and further afield to Public Works. We get a big budget from the National Health Budget and the National Tertiary Services Grant – we are quite fortunate for this because, unlike other hospitals, we get this extra lump sum of money,” said Walsh.


One thought on “Fort England raises the standard‏

  1. For Dr Walsh….
    ‎None of the email addresses work from Google for Fort England psychiayrists. Can you assist?
    I need help urgently!

    Things have not been going well!  In fact Doctor Arthur will not renew my prescription for 6 months until I get help and I have been on certain pills for 19 years for panic attacks, anxiety and depression!  So it ends 15 September, the prescription for my pills.‎
    I cannot wait 6 to 8 months to see a psychiatrist in this town as it seems to be here in East London!
    A month ago I had to move from my granny flat after well over 4 years as owners are selling.  I moved a road away after looking for weeks and realised I had not looked properly when moving here and gave notice on Saturday, 1 August, the day I moved in.
    As you know moving is very very stressful!  So now I have moved again to a granny flat in Beacon Bay after only being in new place a few weeks! Did 2x moves in 1 month!
    Then, also while my son was on a 2 month holiday I had my first accident ever in 47 years!  I was looking down on the floor picking up papers going down a steep hill, not looking through the window and I hit a parked car really hard.  I broke the chassis, suspension etc….all happening late June and I have had no transport since then and been taking taxis!!!!!  Damage is R12 grand, being fixed still in Gonubie!
    I refuse to go to CMH as I went once years ago with my Dad and seeing all the shackled prisoners there etc gave me instant panic attacks plus they did not even have generics of the pills I am on!
    My GP, Dr Arthur says I need to go to Fort England, Grahamstown as I need to type to pay rent monthly.  My new rent is R500 more than last rent per month!
    My stepmom, who hates me, has kept my Dad away from me for over 2 months now which has been really depressing and sad!
    Is there anybody I could start seeing for counselling for panic attacks, mostly depression and suicidal thoughts I have had since December etc at Fort England and to monitor my pills?????  I also wake up scared, nervous, panicky through the night and bad in the mornings!

    Then for 2 years, all that helps is sipping wine days/nights whilst doing cheaply paid typing from home! I never get drunk but need wine daily to take the edge off!

    What is required for me to come to you? Must Dr Arthur fax or email you a letter? How can I get there from East London?

    Charlene Wild, East London
    Cell:  082 687 4640 or
    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s