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Charlotte Maxeke Hospital still ‘a death trap’ for staff and patients

No beds for new admissions, oncology patients who are moved at risk of infection and are receiving suboptimal care, and patient overflows sent out to overburdened neighbouring facilities. This is how Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg — a dedicated COVID facility — is still limping along after a fire in April closed most of it, reports TimesLive.

“We are running like headless chickens. Nothing is getting fixed properly and the only successes have been when Solidarity or Gift of the Givers have come in and taken over,” said a doctor who has worked at the hospital since 1997. “The government should be embarrassed that an NGO had to come and dig a borehole to supply a public hospital with water,” he added. “The place is falling apart around us.”

TimeLIVE reports the
 Gauteng infrastructure and development department as saying
the hospital will open blocks one to
five, block
 by
 block, starting in
 May
 next 
year
 and ending
 in
 June 2024. The hospital, the second largest tertiary hospital in the southern hemisphere, has 
been 
hit 
by 
fire, flooding, water outages
 and
 a
 litany
 of
 other problems this
 year
 alone.

An unnamed doctor
 said while more than R944m had
 been budgeted for the
 work, “expenditure 
to
 date
 is R4,072,399.51”. The doctor, who asked not to 
be 
identified, said
he 
believed
 the Health Department was failing 
to
 pay 
for
 work 
done,
 and
 anything done so 
far had
 been
 only
 with 
the
 help
 of 
outside organisations and funders.

“They are
just plugging holes and fixing with plaster, while the place falls apart and morale is so
low we
are starting to speak out, because the
 worst that
 can happen 
is 
we
will 
be
 fired. Patients are
 silent because they
are
sick, scared and desperate for
 just
 a Panado,” he
 said.

“Two weeks ago
 a water pipe burst and flooded the surgical block. That got fixed and then
 on Monday that same pipe burst, flooding the medical wards and damaging all the electrics. We had
 to move the patients out to
 obstetrics and gynaecology, leaving adults
in 
the paediatric ward.
 On
 Tuesday there 
was
 flooding again
 and
 we
 were 
told
 we
 could
only
 move patients back 
on Wednesday. But 
we 
have
 learnt
 to 
wait
 rather 
than trust 
and
at
 8am
 on Thursday, just as 
we
 were ready 
to 
move back, things were
 still
 wet 
and electricity still tripping.

“Now
 the
 nuclear medicine department, which has machines worth R50m to R100m, is
 at
risk of
water damage,” the doctor told TimesLIVE.

 

TimesLIVE article – Death trap: Charlotte Maxeke Hospital still limping months after fire havoc (Restricted access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Charlotte Maxeke cardiac unit dysfunctional and high-risk

 

DA: 2,000 patients a day unable to be treated at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

 

DA: Only private/public partnership can reopen Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

 

Oncology at Charlotte Maxeke to open following SAHRC intervention

 

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