’Charlotte Maxeke hospital has been poorly maintained for years’
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Johannesburg - DA spokesperson on health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom has raised concern about the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital saying maintenance on the facility had been lacking for years.
Bloom said the hospital has been poorly maintained for years, with frequent water leaks and a ceiling that collapsed in March 2017.
Cancer patients, he said, would suffer worse as the oncology department was near the parking lot that has collapsed.
“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.”
Bloom also highlighted that the medical facility was an “academic hospital” and that it would not be easy to provide certain specialist services elsewhere in the province for extended periods of time.
Labour unions have also come down hard on the Gauteng Department of Health over the fire outbreak at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.
The devastating blaze started on Friday at the Parktown-based hospital after a storeroom for medical supplies caught alight in the morning.
Fire fighters were said to have battled the blaze throughout the night on Friday and into Saturday morning, while 400 patients were evacuated to other hospitals in the province.
In a statement, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) in Gauteng said it was a serious concern as this appeared to be poor compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act by the department.
“It was not long ago that a similar incident played out at Carletonville Hospital on the West Rand, which followed the fire that broke out at the Bank of Lisbon building, head office of the Gauteng Department of Health, in 2018,” Denosa said.
The union stated that it hoped it was just coincidental that the fires that broke out at both the Carletonville and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals started at their store rooms, and that there was no foul play.
“We hope outcomes and recommendations of the investigation will be implemented without any delay. Denosa is relieved that no staff member was reported to be injured.
“We are, however, extremely concerned that lives are continually put at risk by the department, with key things like smoke detectors and working fire sprinklers failing to prevent the spread of a fire.”
National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has called for an immediate investigation into the fire outbreak at the hospital.
In a statement the union said the fire apparently gutted the dispensary where all the dry and medical items are kept. It further described this as a setback, explaining that workers were already in dire need of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other medical supplies.
“As we head towards the third wave of Covid-19 infections, hospitals must be fully stocked with PPE so as to avoid the mass infections of front line workers like it happened during the first wave. The fact that the fire raged on for many hours proves that occupational safety measures are not adequately adhered to at the hospital.”
The union said investigations must reveal if the hospital has a functional fire sprinkler system and other measures to deal with such an ordeal.
“Nehawu will continue to sharply raise the issue of health and safety of its members and workers in all workplaces. In this regard, we will seek an audience with the Minister of Health to demand immediate answers. The fire at Charlotte Maxeke comes just two months after another storeroom of the Carletonville Hospital, where medical equipment worth R23 million went up in flames.”