Getrude Makhafola
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
31 Jan 2022
4:40 pm

Charlotte Maxeke fire: Desperate CEO calls NGO for help as government stalls

Getrude Makhafola

Gift of the Givers engineers were shocked to discover that there was no engineering report almost a year after the fire.

Fire damage at Charlotte Maxeke hospital in Johannesburg. Picture: Twitter/@GautengHealth

Management at Joburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital have asked humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers for help with repairs to speed up resumption of health services.

Parts of the hospital caught fire in April last year, forcing it to close. Patients were referred to other hospitals such as Chris Hani Baragwanath and Bertha Gxowa, which were already overburdened with patients.

The building’s Blocks 3 and 4 were the hardest hit by the blaze.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman said the hospital asked his organisation for assistance two weeks ago.

“Gift of the Givers was approached by Ms Gladys Bogoshi, CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital requesting assistance in anyway that could make the opening of the hospital a reality. The management, health care workers, general staff, patients and their families were getting increasingly despondent, desperate and upset by the delays in achieving essential medical attention,” Sooliman said on Friday.

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No engineering report

Bogoshi wanted the structurally damaged Block 4 to be examined by engineers and repaired.

Gift of the Givers engineers were shocked to discover that there was no engineering report almost a year after the fire.

Said Sooliman: “We were stunned that no engineering report has been commissioned eleven months later, and when, and if commissioned, the process through government takes three to six months. Clearly, this is a catastrophic failure on behalf of all tiers of government responsible for such matters.”

The NGO has since written to Bogoshi, requesting certain conditions in writing. If satisfied with the feedback, it would consider sending engineers to commission a report depending on the cost.

“The report will then guide us as to the cost and method of repair to achieve structural compliance and fire security. In the meantime, we are engaging donors with the hope to go forward with the upgrade of Block 4 so vital to the essential functioning of the entire hospital,” he said.

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Cancer patients suffering

The DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom said limited services were being offered at Charlotte Maxeke, and that the situation for cancer patients was of grave concern.

“The frustrating thing is that the Gauteng Health MEC [Nomathemba Mokgethi] cannot give a clear timeline for the reopening of all services. It’s a terrible blow to the healthy service in Gauteng as its specialist services cannot be done at other hospitals.

“I fear that cancer and heart patients in particular, are dying because of the continuing closure, and the backlogs for operations are greatly alarmingly,” Bloom said.

He added that the provincial government needed to urgently find funding and reopen the hospital as soon as possible.

“They also need the expertise of the private sector to ensure that these funds are properly used to complete the job on time.”

Asked whether the Gift of the Givers would shoulder the repairs and costs, health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the provincial government “was bringing in additional capacity.”

“There are some remedial work that have been carried out at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital which allowed for the partial opening of the facility, i.e Radiation Oncology section. The Gauteng Provincial Government is currently looking at fast-tracking the project through bringing additional capacity on board.”

In-patient health services available included obstetrics and gynaecology, radiology, general surgery and other surgeries such as maxillofacial and ophthalmology,