Patients must wait at least two years before Charlotte Maxeke fully reopens

30 July 2021 - 13:53 By alex patrick
Fire damage has seen Charlotte Maxeke Hospital closed since April. The MEC for infrastructure development says the hospital will only fully reopen in 2023. File photo.
Fire damage has seen Charlotte Maxeke Hospital closed since April. The MEC for infrastructure development says the hospital will only fully reopen in 2023. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

Gauteng infrastructure development and property management MEC Tasneem Motara has revealed that the mid-term estimation for the reopening of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg is only in 2023.

The long-term dates for plans to fix areas damaged by fire in April and declared structurally unsafe are “dependent on the outcome of the forensic investigation and the detailed structural investigation recommendations”.

Motara was responding to written questions in the Gauteng legislature by DA shadow minister of health Jack Bloom.

Motara said the fixing of the hospital was taking place in three phases:

  • Short term: Phase 1 — The opening of the radiation and oncology units has been completed and a certificate of occupation has been received.
  • Medium term: The department will continue to make safe areas declared safe and deemed critical by the clinicians to resume medical operations. This will be completed in 2023.
  • Long term: The reopening dates for areas damaged by the fire and declared structurally unsafe by the engineer in the northern side of the hospital, dependent on the outcome of the forensic investigation and the detailed structural investigation recommendations.

“The hospital was built between the mid and late 1970s,” Motara said in her written response.

“As legislation progressed, the hospital being a fixed asset cannot be rebuilt. To achieve full compliance, the team had to look for alternative solutions to make the hospital compliant to the latest legislation where feasible.

“In terms of infrastructure requirements, professional service providers were commissioned to investigate relevant requirements for healthcare facilities. These include, electrical, structural, mechanical, architectural, fire and general OHS [occupational health and safety] compliance.”

She said the costs to make the hospital compliant with the OHS Act were to be confirmed once all “internal processes had been concluded”.

She said there was no budget allocation in the current financial year to fix the hospital, but the budget did include:

  • R50m for planned, statutory and preventive maintenance;
  • R2.6m for new or replaced assets for electro-mechanical works;
  • R6.4m for rehabilitation, renovations and refurbishments to the psychiatric unit; and
  • R100m for a new request for service for remedial work due to the fire.

The estimated costs for the identified infrastructure requirements are: 

  • R7.5m for the radiation oncology building scope — this includes fire installation, steel canopy, staircase and ramp for the entrance, installation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), smoke and voice systems, and electrical installation;
  • R19.2m for propping the burnt structure (support beams) of the block, including construction and installation; and
  • R111.2m for blocks 1, 2 and 3 — for fire installation and/or construction costs.  

The remaining blocks and scope are yet to be communicated to the department. 

Regarding the infamous fire doors, Motara said contractors were appointed through the panel of contractors the department uses, and other doors were supplied as a donation by the Solidarity Fund and RMB.

“The [original] doors were installed a long time ago. For those identified as non-compliant, the maintenance team was in the process of replacing them [before the fire] as done in the nursing homes. There the corridor was open. There were no fire doors. This is a new installation.”

She blamed Covid-19 restrictions, the finalising of hospital draft plans (needed for the measuring of the doors) and that “the doors are long lead items because they are purpose- made doors” for the delay in obtaining new fire doors.

In response, Bloom said he was concerned that no budget had been allocated to fix the hospital and would need to be sourced “from existing maintenance and other budgets”, which may not be sufficient.

“R100m has been requested for remedial work after the fire, but there is no estimated construction cost yet for the repair of the most damaged part of the hospital. I estimate it will likely be about R1bn for full repairs,” he said.

“Meanwhile, more than 2,300 patients wait for cataract operations at the hospital, and there are huge backlogs for other types of surgery that affects hundreds of others.”

He told TimesLIVE commissioning private hospitals to pick up the backlog was the only way to ease the burden on the hospital. 

TimesLIVE


subscribe