Mediclinic Cape Gate achieves water independence

Posted on 29 May 2018

As part of Mediclinic’s sustainable water management, the hospital group has set about implementing measures to ensure that Western Cape hospitals are independent of the municipal water supply where possible.

Mediclinic Cape Gate is now officially capable of operating independently of the municipal system if required, having recently commissioned a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration plant at the hospital. These plants have been introduced at a 3 key, strategic hospitals across the water stressed province, with a further plant being planned.

‘In the past we designed our hospitals to be capable of lasting 24 hours without water from the local authority. Our sustainable water management plans ensure our hospitals can continue operating smoothly, without interruption, for far longer periods of time. It’s quite common for some of our hospitals to be without water from the local authority for up to 14 days at a time,’ says Francois Bester, Environmental Systems Manager for Mediclinic Southern Africa.

As part of the process of becoming independent, a borehole was drilled at the hospital and the necessary measures were taken to register this with the authorities. The water produced from the borehole is of a very poor quality. An RO plant was necessary to ensure that potable water quality could be produced, which is safe for human consumption in accordance with SANS 241-1 standard.

Corne Strydom, Technical Manager at Mediclinic Cape Gate explains the filtration process. ‘The process for RO filtration includes first chemically dosing the water after which it passes through a number of filters. Firstly an iron removal filter and then a multimedia filter to remove bigger particles. An activated carbon filter is then used to remove chlorines and any smell that the water may have. There is then an additional filter to remove smaller particles from the water. Finally the water is forced through reverse osmosis membranes to remove all particles larger than 0.0001 microns, after which the pure reverse osmosis water is blended with appropriate minerals to correct the dose.’

This water is then suitable for operational requirements such as drinking water for patients but also processes such as autoclaves for sterilising equipment within the business.

As with other hospitals in the group, Mediclinic Cape Gate has implemented a number of resource saving initiatives. ‘Additional water metres were installed to monitor usage in specific areas – you cannot manage what you cannot measure,’ says Corne Strydom. He adds, ‘An autoclave recycling plant was commissioned earlier this year and ice machine discharge water is now captured and re-used for cleaning purposes in the kitchen.’ Even small considerations such as unused drinking water from a patient’s bedside is kept and re-used for housekeeping in the units.

With the vital role that water plays in the effective functioning of any hospital, lack of continuous water supply could have drastic consequence as hospitals cannot ensure levels of hygiene for their patients. Thirty-six hours without water will see the shutting down and evacuation of a hospital. Thus the latest measures implemented at Mediclinic Cape Gate, and 10 other hospitals, means greater security for the hospital when trying to deliver high-quality medical care to their patients.

While the boreholes will not be in operation full-time at current water levels, their operational times are being managed according to guidelines set out by a consulting geohydrologist to ensure that the valuable resource below ground is carefully managed and not stressed.

 

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