After a fire raged through parts of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg in April, the embattled health facility has now reported that several items were stolen.
The Gauteng health department confirmed in a statement on Thursday that a case of theft had been opened at Hillbrow police station.
The department’s head of communication, Motalatale Modiba, said 10 computers, three laptops, a fridge and six plasma TV sets “disappeared” after the fire.
After the fire, a number of equipment items were taken to other facilities. It was during this process that hospital management realised that several items were missing.
“Although the theft of the above-mentioned items will not have any major impact on service provision at the facility, and no critical information was lost or compromised, the department is nevertheless concerned at the breach of security,” Modiba said.
No entry to building after fire
After the fire, which broke out on 16 April in the special dispensary stores of the hospital, no one was permitted inside.
Security was deployed in the staff residence area, which also monitored the hospital’s perimeter fence and gates.
It is not yet known how the items were stolen if no people were allowed inside the burned out part of the building.
Although no loss of life was reported, valuable personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical equipment such as gloves and catheters was lost.
Two years to fix
Gauteng health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi recently said the hospital could not cope with the 2,000 outpatients at the hospital, with other hospitals having to cope with an influx of patients referred to them.
Out of the 1,000-bed hospital, only 489 are in use, and the hospital is only able to see around 381 patients per day – a reduction of 84%.
The emergency and psychiatry departments will not be open by year-end, which are in the section most damaged by the fire, with estimates that it could take two years for structural work on the hospital to be completed.
Other departments that have been affected are surgical and medical specialities, accident, emergency and the trauma unit, as well as maternity and paediatric emergencies.
The chair of social security systems administration and management studies at the Wits School of Governance, Professor Alex van den Heever, told The Citizen this week it was not clear why it would take so long. On average, an entirely new hospital takes around three years to construct.
Van den Heever said the millions plundered in the Digital Vibes scandal involving former national health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize could have made a significant difference to fixing Charlotte Maxeke hospital.
Compiled by Nica Richards. Additional reporting by Ina Opperman