The monitors beep and squawk as dedicated doctors and nursing staff battle in their fight to keep the most medically fragile babies alive. Beds in this NNICU are often needed for young patients engaged in an ongoing battle to stay alive, but resources are scarce and the reality is that one young mother’s heartache could be another mother’s joy; as a spot for her desperately ill baby that requires life-saving intervention becomes available.

This is the reality at Port Elizabeth’s Dora Nginza Hospital. Part of the PE Hospital Complex and the largest tertiary teaching hospital in the area, it has a 570-bed capacity and treats the communities in and around the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.

“The hospital identified the need for the upgrade and refurbishment of the NNICU back in 2017 already, which would allow our young patients not only better facilities but also give us the capacity to treat more babies,” commented Felicia Hendricks, PA to HOD: Paediatrics at Dora Nginza Hospital.

A request by the hospital was put through to the Department of Health, but budget constraints saw the lives and well-being of the metro’s tiniest and most defenceless patients repeatedly put on the back burner as healthcare budgets were allocated elsewhere.

“Our association with Hutz Group of Companies goes back many years and it was through their contact and knowledge of a funder within the private sector that the project was resurrected when they reached out to the SPIRE Fund. Within less than two months, the project has been completed. “This not only allows babies a chance to be treated in better facilities but we are in the position to assist more patients!” commented Ms Hendricks.

The turn-around time of less than a month from the initial request to funding granted holds true to SPIRE’s objective of speedily upping critical bed capacity within the public healthcare sector. Within 2-3 weeks the Hutz Hospi-Tec team was onsite to complete the project, with the initial time being utilised for the manufacture of units and necessary behind-the-scenes work.

Part of the Hutz Group of Companies, Hutz Hospi-Tec is a full-service medical infrastructure facilities company with selected industry professionals on board to enable hospital projects, revitalisation and refurbishment programmes.

The Dora Nginza project was to convert a mothers’ lodge into a 24 bed neonatal high care facility which allows the hospital to provide specialised care to covid-positive babies and babies of covid-positive mothers.  Hutz Hospi-Tec installed the required electrical reticulation with UPS units, medical gas piping, climate control equipment, new ceilings and isolation panelling. Bedhead Service Supply Systems in the form of HU10-01 units were also supplied and installed by Hutz Medical.

Mary Vilakazi, COO of FirstRand said SPIRE felt very privileged to have been able to support the Dora Nginza project.

“Dr MacKay and her incredibly dedicated team have worked tirelessly to save the lives of many newborn infants during the current Covid crisis and continue to provide valuable on-going healthcare support to the people of the Eastern Cape.  A big thank you to the Hutz Hospi-Tec team for the outstanding work it has done in delivering a top-class facility in record time.”

“The much-needed infrastructural upgrades in the neonatal unit at Dora Nginza, will have a far-reaching impact and will be felt for years to come. We are extremely grateful for such generous support,” commented Dr Cheryl Mackay, HCU Neonatology: Dora Nginza Hospital.

So tonight, as the city grows quiet and the hallways of Dora Nginza are filled with doctors and nurses hurrying about their duties, we think of their littlest charges safely tucked away amongst their beeping monitors. Each breath is a victory, each day is a celebration as lives are changed through the SPIRE Fund and the great work that they, together with their service providers, are undertaking.


The SA Pandemic Intervention and Relief Effort (SPIRE) Fund was established by FirstRand, with the objective of supporting South Africa in its battle against the Covid-19 virus. FirstRand has allocated an anchor investment of R100 million to SPIRE, funded by the FirstRand Foundations, FNB and RMB. One of SPIRE’s immediate objectives is to accelerate the scaling of South Africa’s COVID-19 critical care capacity particularly those responsible for providing testing, front-line protective care, ventilators and addressing critical bed capacity.

The Dora Nginza project is but one of many that SPIRE has undertaken in recent months. Other hospitals which were the recipients of SPIRE funding include Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth, where the ICU was expanded and a new HVAC system installed, Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg where two projects took place, namely the conversion of Ward 567 into a 29-bed ICU, as well as the conversion of an open area into a High Care Unit with Isolation Rooms.

SPIRE has already funded 100 000 UltraGene COVID-19 test kits to assist the NHLS to accelerate testing. In addition, it is also standing by to fund further shipments of frontline protective clothing and ventilators as part of the current BUSA and Solidarity initiatives.