Sections of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital not affected by fire to reopen: Makhura

24 June 2021 - 16:45 By shonisani tshikalange
Fire damage at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital has seen the facility closed since April. File photo.
Fire damage at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital has seen the facility closed since April. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Some blocks at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital which were untouched by a recent fire will reopen, Gauteng premier David Makhura announced on Thursday. 

During a Gauteng command council briefing, Makhura said blocks 1 and 2, and the oncology section, would reopen to help reduce pressure on other facilities. He said the two blocks were unaffected by the fire and host critical services.

“We came to a conclusion that it is better to open parts of the hospital that are structurally sound. We also received legal advice,” he said.

“Yesterday, Wednesday June 23, the executive council in a special meeting took a decision to give the go-ahead to reopen the parts of the hospital that have not been structurally affected by the fire.

“They are busy today with the resumption of critical services, including Covid-19.”

Makhura said waiting until September for all compliance requirements to be met was not an option.

Any more delays will cause severe health risks as the hospital occupies centre stage in dealing with Covid-19 and in providing specialised health services in support of several hospitals and primary healthcare facilities.”

He said bringing the hospital back into service would not take away the problem but would bring relief to other facilities.

“People who were at Charlotte Maxeke are now overburdening other hospitals. Those hospitals have their own patients. Charlotte Maxeke is also needed.”

Makhura said the number of hospital admissions had increased in recent days.

There are 5,842 patients admitted into Gauteng's hospitals, of whom 1,488 are in ICU and high care and 4,354 are in general wards. Of the total, 1,736 are in public facilities while 4,106 are in private facilities.

Health activists and cancer patient groups welcomed the decision to reopen sections of the hospital — and said it was vital that authorities did this “safely and quickly”.

The groups — Section27 and the Cancer Alliance — said that there was a backlog of “over 1,000 patients who needed radiation oncology” before the fire two months ago.

“Because of the continued red tape and impediments to opening, this backlog has grown — putting more and more cancer patients’ lives at risk,” the statement read.