Background

HISTORY:

Medical work at Old Mutare officially began in 1903 when conference medical director Dr Samuel Gurney started construction of the outpatient dispensary at the site, known then as Old Umtali. The name later changed from Umtali to Mutare following the war for independence in Zimbabwe, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1915, Swedish physician Dr Ellen Bjorklund arrived at Old Mutare on a health furlough from her work in Inhambane, Mozambique. Dr Bjorklund decided to stay on at Old Mutare and completed Dr Gurney’s dispensary, opening the hospital’s first inpatient facility as well.

After Dr Bjorklund’s death in 1930, Ruth Hassson, a trained nurse from Sweden, was the only nurse at Old Mutare until 1934. With Sr Hansso’s transfer to Mutambara in the 1940s, came the arrival of Sr Alice Whitney, under whose direction the present Old Mutare Hospital was built in 1962.

Upon the completion of the hospital in 1962, Dr Rosalie Johnson was appointed the medical centre’s first medical director. Dr Johnson helped establish four district clinics during her first four years at Old Mutare, before moving to Nyadire Hospital in 1966. In that same year one of Zimbabwe’s first African Medical doctors, Elisha Mutasa was appointed medical superintendent of Old Mutare Hospital.

Dr Mutasa teamed with his wife, Sister Adrienne Mutasa, hospital matron, to expand the district clinics and to direct the construction of a large maternity unit at the hospital. After Dr Mutasa’s death in 1970, his wife carried on with work at Old Mutare alone until 1974. Mrs Rudo Kapenzi followed as matron for the next nine years. There was no doctor at Old Mutare until 1982 when Dr Johnson returned to Old Mutare. Dr Johnson worked until 1992 when a Germany doctor, Dr Fank Mozer came. He worked until 1993. Dr Tendai Manyeza joined the hospital in 1995 . The dental unit, laboratory, kitchen and the administration units were constructed during period 1996 to 2005. Dr Mutsaa also joined the hospital in October 2013.