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Charlotte Maxeke Hospital closure raises concerns

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital fire
Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital gutted by fire. Picture source: Gauteng Health Dept Facebook

By Kaya 959 News

A request has been made with the office of the Gauteng Legislature concerning the continued closure of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said the province’s ability to manage the third wave will be compromised by the hospital’s closure.

He said it will be “practically impossible” for the province to manage the third wave without the more than 1000 beds which are inclusive of 124 Intensive Care Unit beds at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

“This matter needs urgent attention and we have committed as the Portfolio Committee to engage national Ministers to see how they can assist to ensure that the facility is ready and available to assist in the management of the 3rd wave,” Dhlomo said.

Hospital damaged in fire

Part of the hospital was damaged in a fire in April. After patients were transferred to other medical facilities, it was decided that the hospital would remain closed for repairs. However, Head of Infrastructure at the Gauteng Health Department Dr Sifiso Maseko said sections of the hospital that were not affected by the fire would be reopened.

The DA’s Jack Bloom said this has not been the case.

Bloom said it remains closed despite an assessment that most of the building is structurally sound, and the pressing need to save the lives of patients who require specialist care.

“Senior doctors have called for safe sections of the hospital to be reopened as soon as possible, but it is unclear why this has not happened despite promises by the provincial government,” he said.

GALLERY: Charlotte Maxeke Hospital goes up in flames

Public health system in crisis

He added that patients who are most affected include cancer patients who need chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and kidney patients who require dialysis.

“It is critical that the ICU beds at CMJH for COVID-19 patients are available for use as soon as possible as we face a devastating third wave of the epidemic,” Bloom said.

Bloom said the Gauteng public health system is in crisis as other hospitals are crowded with hundreds of CMJH patients.

He added that there needs to be accountability for the failure to speedily reopen-the 1000-bed hospital, as it is causing immense suffering to patients and will lead to deaths the longer it is closed.

“The debate on this matter will go ahead at the sitting on Tuesday if Speaker Mekgwe grants my request that it be considered as a matter of urgent public importance. This will hopefully pressurise Premier David Makhura to give a clear answer on the opening of the hospital,” he said.

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