Mwandi Hospital has been designated as the COVID Center for its western Zambia district. The added costs of care for COVID patients cannot be absorbed by the hospital's operating budget. Further, the costs of nationally-produced hydroelectric power are drastically increasing. Completing Phase 2 of our solar power project will take the hospital off the ZESCO power grid and allow the hospital to redirect funds previously used for electrical power to cover the increasing costs of patient care.
Zambia's COVID cases are rising. Rural areas are most vulnerable to viral spread as living conditions hamper social distancing. Hence, Mwandi Hospital will need to isolate all COVID patients and the staff caring for them. Analysis of projected patient load and rising prices of consumables predicts that costs of patient care will rise by 80% by August. Importantly, "on-the-grid" electricity accounts for most of those cost increases, despite some savings gained from Phase 1 of our solar project.
By March 2020, Phase 1 of our existing solar project was supplying 68% of the electricity used in main hospital building. Our experiences with the current system will allow us to scale up the project to meet the demands for COVID patient care and will reduce on-the-grid power costs. We hope to complete Phase 2 by the end of 2020, a year in advance of our earlier projection. Savings accrued will be applied to patient care and will offset the extraordinary costs of care associated with COVID-1
Phase 2 will enable hospital staff to meet the special needs of COVID patients and will allow uninterrupted patient care in all hospital buildings. The hospital's 2020-2030 facility master plan includes expansion of the solar power infrastructure to provide power for all proposed and existing healthcare buildings. The plan includes flexible structures for specialized care and increased patient services. These changes will also qualify Mwandi hospital for an upgrade to a Level 2 status hospital.