Gauteng hospital dismisses claims that interns are stranded and homeless

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The Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, has dismissed allegations by interns who claim they were left stranded and homeless following a fire that destroyed their quarters, reports News24.

On 20 October, eight flats in the doctors’ quarters building were damaged by the blaze and four were completely destroyed. Communications manager Zwide Ndwandwe said in the report that according to the investigating officer, a student was studying by candlelight because of a power outage. She took a nap and woke up to her flat in flames. “The fire extinguishers, to our knowledge, were functional, our suspicion is that the interns did not know how to use them.

“We have had three meetings with students since the fire. It is not our responsibility according to the contract signed by junior doctors with the hospital to provide compensation, that is not our obligation,” Ndwandwe said.

The report says several junior doctors who were affected by the blaze raised concerns about “dysfunctional” extinguishers. One of the junior doctors who wished to remain anonymous said they were woken up by the fire at around 01:30. “I have been squatting with a friend since Saturday, I have lost everything, and I have nowhere to go,” she said.

Activist Mpho Morolane also claimed that at the time of the incident the building was not fit for occupation. “This is the mistake of the hospital as these doctors’ quarters buildings are not serviced or maintained,” Morolane said. The report says Morolane has also accused the hospital of not communicating with those affected by the incident and failing to provide accommodation and food for displaced interns. “The hospital management is yet to say anything about the incident, interns have been squatting at the nurses’ quarters and around Pretoria in the hopes of seeking refuge,” said Morolane.

But management has rejected the claims that the buildings were not compliant, the report says. Director of nursing Dr Lillian Nkosi also said students “voluntarily” chose to lodge with their friends until Monday. “I arrived at the scene after I received a call in the early hours of the morning, but students indicated that they would lodge with friends over the weekend and we should only get accommodation from the following Monday,” she said.

The report says the five affected junior doctors have since been placed in lodgings around the area until suitable accommodation has been made available.

Management has also reported the incident to the Gauteng Health Department and will receive guidelines from its headquarters on how to proceed.

News24 report

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