Alternative arrangements for cancer patients must be made urgently, as the Radiation Oncology Department will remain closed when operations resume at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital following a fire, the DA has said.
The blaze, which started on Friday 16 April, significantly damaged parts of the hospital building. The next day, the Gauteng government decided to temporarily close the hospital.
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 building. A preliminary assessment of the building revealed that the fire had affected Block 3 and 4 of the hospital. The two blocks are expected to remain closed until engineers complete a detailed structural assessment.
Patients will return to the other areas of the hospital over the coming weekend, and the hospital will resume services from Monday, the provincial government announced in a statement.
“The safety of staff and patients as well as the quality of care provided to every patient remain the most important priorities of the Gauteng Provincial Government and the hospital management as we prepare for the resumption of services,” the statement said.
However, DA MP Jack Bloom said alternative arrangements for cancer patients needed to be made, as the Radiation Oncology Department was in the damaged section of the building and may not reopen for months.
“Steve Biko Hospital in Tshwane is the only other hospital that does radiation treatment, but they are already stretched with patients. Lives will be put at risk if alternative arrangements are not made urgently for hundreds of cancer patients,” he said.
Bloom has called on the Gauteng health department to expand capacity by organising cancer radiation treatment in the evenings and over weekends, as well as by paying private hospitals to treat public patients for cancer.
In response to these concerns, as well as comment on what alternative arrangement were being made, Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said: “Radiation Oncology services are offered at Steve Biko.”
Kwara was pressed by News24 to answer whether Charlotte Maxeke’s ongology services were impacted, but she would only say: “The hospital (Charlotte Maxeke) is colsed and patients are receiveing te service at Steve Biko [hospital].
More than 800 patients were transferred to 17 health facilities in the province following the fire.
Investigations into the cause of the fire are still underway.