A fire at Charlotte Maxeke hospital resulted in over 800 patients being evacuated and the hospital being shut down. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)
A fire at Charlotte Maxeke hospital resulted in over 800 patients being evacuated and the hospital being shut down. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Date set for fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke hospital to resume services

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Apr 26, 2021

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Johannesburg - The fire-gutted Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) will resume services on May 3, following a blaze that saw two blocks of the hospital significantly damaged.

The fire broke out at the Special Dispensary Stores and spread to various sections of the parking lot multi-storey structure, causing significant damage to the CMJAH building on April 16.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Tuesday that more than R40 million worth of stock, largely personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essentials, burned during the blaze.

The Gauteng provincial government spokesperson Thabo Masebe said on Saturday that a preliminary assessment of the building has been conducted to determine the extent of the damage.

“The preliminary report revealed that the fire had affected Block 3 and 4 of the hospital. The two blocks shall remain closed until engineers complete a detailed structural assessment,” the spokesperson said.

Masebe said that a phased approach will be implemented by the government, guided by the assessment and plan of the clinicians, engineers and occupational health and safety team.

“The rest of the hospital, which was not affected by the fire, is being prepared for the resumption of services and the return of patients. All patients will be transferred during the weekend of May 1 - 2 and the hospital will resume services from May 3,” he said.

Masebe added that the safety of staff and patients, as well as the quality of care provided to every patient, remained the most important priorities to the provincial government and the CMJAH management, as they prepare for the resumption of services.

‘’All investigations by the relevant authorities, pertaining to the cause of the fire, are still under way,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management said on Friday that after the fire was fully extinguished, the department conducted a visual assessment on what needed to be done.

“A decision was made to prop the collapsed slab to allow SAPS to conduct their fire investigation, which includes forensic investigations,” the department spokesperson Bongiwe Gambu said.

She said that once concluded, structural engineers will provide a report with recommendations on remedial work required, including structural repairs.

“At this stage, we are unable to confirm how long the structural assessment will take and when this process will be concluded. This is due to the fact that the assessment also involves laboratory tests, the results of which will determine the extent of damage and repair work needed to be undertaken,” she said.

Gambu added that on Wednesday, the cleaning of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and air ducts, started inside the entire hospital.

“Once the cleaning is complete, an air quality test will confirm that the facility is safe for occupation and use. We envisage that this work will be complete sometime during the next week,” she said.

The department further placed on record the current statistics of the fire protection services in the hospital.

“Fire protection systems, such as hydrants, extinguishers, and hose reels, are inspected monthly. These were last inspected in March 2021. There is a total of 1 003 firefighting equipment in the hospital area and 50 in the administration block, excluding the nurses’ residence and the admin blocks,” Gambu said.

The firefighting equipment includes about 75 fire hydrants, 295 hose reels, 575 DCP fire extinguishers and 58 CO2 distribution points.

The provincial government further commended the work of health-care workers in the various health facilities, firefighters, clinicians, and the staff and management of CMJAH, for going beyond the call of duty to ensure patients’ safety.

“The provincial government conveys its sincere gratitude to all CMJAH patients and relatives for their understanding and patience during this period,” Masebe said.

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