By Kaya 959 News
The Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) said it is not surprising that a fire broke out at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
The union said the state facility has been in dilapidation for some time.
At least 700 patients had to be transferred from the hospital at the weekend following the blaze. The fire broke out at the hospital’s special dispensary stores on Friday morning.
Just before midnight on the same day, the fire had reignited.
Rich Sicina, YNITU General Secretary, said they were not surprised by the fire “as the building has been falling apart.”
“As YNITU we know for a fact that such incidents are caused by poor maintenance and failure to address major infrastructural issues including exposed electrical wiring, leakages and lifts that do not work.
“YNITU calls for a proper investigation into the state of the hospital building followed by harsh punishment of those who have failed to make sure that the facility is well kept. They have unnecessarily exposed patients, employees, and members of the public to danger,” he said.
Hospital closed pending further investigation
The hospital will be closed for seven days.
Various media houses reported the paramedics and other first responders had to evacuate patients and medical staff.
Parts of the hospital’s third floor had caved in.
In a statement issued on Sunday night, Gauteng Health said all patients had been transferred to other facilities.
“Currently, the site has been handed over to the fire safety investigation officer for the commencement of the investigations around the cause of the fire. All patients were transferred to other facilities in Gauteng. The process of informing the patients’ relatives is underway.
“Meanwhile, all bodies from the hospital mortuary have been transported to the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Edenvale,” the department said.
Patients who normally fetch their chronic medication from the hospital will need to go to other health facilities for assistance.
Health officials say they will be assisted at all nearby facilities
Concerns waiting times will be extended
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom, said cancer patients will suffer the worst as the oncology department is near the parking lot that has collapsed.
He said expensive radiation machines may have been damaged or will need to be salvaged for a new place to operate.
“I am concerned that large parts of the hospital may not be structurally sound after this fire and will not be safe for patients. This hospital has been poorly maintained for years, with frequent water leaks and a ceiling that collapsed in March 2017.
“Another problem is that the Covid-19 crisis has worsened the waiting times for surgery, and thousands of patients will have to wait even longer for operations,” he said.
DA calls for speedy investigation
Bloom said as CMJH is an academic hospital it will not be easy to provide certain specialist services elsewhere in the province for extended periods of time.
“The Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department should speedily assess whether the structural integrity of the building as a whole is safe.
We need an investigation into the cause of the fire and why safety measures were not able to prevent it or stop it sooner. It appears that fire hydrants were broken at the hospital building, and water had to be obtained from elsewhere,” Bloom said.
He added that this is the second fire this year at a Gauteng public hospital, and questions need to be answered about safety measures at all public hospitals.