Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital reopens casualty unit after year-long closure

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After a year-long closure due to a fire that destroyed parts of the hospital, the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital has finally reopened its casualty unit. While these units have reopened, there will be no walk-ins for the time being due to limited resources.

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla and senior health officials visited the hospital to check on the progress made in repairing the facility.

The hospital was gutted in April last year, with over 700 patients evacuated and forcing the closure of its critical units. A year later, the units have finally re-opened, but only transfers of patients from neighbouring facilities will be allowed as ambulance services are not functional.

The Health Minister says this is due to the unavailability of the CT scan, which was vandalised.

“Because some parts of the parts had to be imported, that has taken some time. Some of the components only arrived in the country this morning so they are busy now working on that CT scan coz it also has to be calibrated because these are sophisticated machines because most of the time you do need a CT scan with patients who have not been processed anywhere else.”

VIDEO: Heath minister to conduct a site visit at Charlotte Maxeke

So far, 15 mental health patients have already been transferred to the facility. Phaahla says most equipment and machines have been installed and the process of transferring more serious patients will commence.

“Because this is a central and important level of service, and also as an academic hospital. Its focus is really in terms of priority 1 and 2 patients so it’s meant to look after very complicated patients, many referrals.”

While the report on the cause of the fire is still pending, the hospital says it has now installed technology which will allow more time to evacuate patients. There are reports that the hospital did not meet fire regulations.

The hospital’s Professor Steve Moeng says, “There is a system that has been inserted with the ability to pinpoint exactly where the fire is. So you just don’t go to a ward, you go into a specific area in the ward where you need to go and check where issues are and where the fault is. That detection system is done in a way that is centrally connected so we will know even before anybody else there is a fire, the alarm system will be significantly improved.”

The hospital has also bolstered its security following reports of theft and vandalism. Hospital CEO, Gladys Bogoshi says, “Now we are compartmentalising the CCTV cameras to be able to focus on certain areas but also areas of high risk which we are being assisted in terms of which are these high-risk areas.”

The hospital says its also bolstering its staff complement which is currently at 5 550 with 643 vacancies expected to be filled soon. Refurbishments are expected to be completed within a year and seven months.