The Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital pacemaker lab has been declared structurally unsafe.
This was according to spokesperson for the MEC for the Gauteng department of infrastructure development, Bongiwe Gambu, who cited leaks above the cardiac theatre as one of the reasons the unit has become high-risk.
Gambu told City Press that the leakage into the pacemaker lab was due to “a blocked toilet in a ward above, which is locked as it is a restricted area”.
“There was also a leak above the cardiac unit last weekend due to a rusted Flushmaster and aged infrastructure.”
According to Gambu, the flooding that occurred in the cardiac unit was due to a contractor working on the plumbing system without isolating the water supply, adding that “some of the leakages date back as far as two to three months, due to acts of vandalism in the interfloors.”
The hospital once again found itself in the spotlight for the wrong reasons after City Press earlier this month reported on how Wits University dental students were up in arms about the crammed and hazardous conditions under which they work.
However, SA Medical Association chairperson Angelique Coetzee said: “It seems many of the media reports are inaccurate and the problems in the hospital have been grossly exaggerated”.
She told City Press that the hospital is “70% inpatient and 80% outpatient function, adding that the facility has a number of technical issues that have to do with new by-laws introduced by the City of Johannesburg that apply to all new buildings.”
Coetzee added that by virtue of the hospital being an old building, it did not comply with those by-laws. This was only discovered after it reopened and those by-laws now apply.
“They are now having to fix them on the fly.”
On April 16, a blaze, in which an estimated R23 million worth of personal protective equipment and other medical items were destroyed, took hold of a section of the hospital. A decision was made to shut it down and transfer patients to other medical facilities.
However, in June, the hospital remained closed after it was revealed that lack of adequate structural plans had delayed its phased reopening, which was set to start with the oncology unit.
Gambu had previously said that “the delay was caused by the approval of the radiation and oncology unit by the City of Johannesburg, which was dependent on the acquisition of fire doors which were long lead items”.
This came after it was revealed that the hospital did not have a building plan.
Takgalang Consulting was subsequently appointed to draw up the missing sections of the hospital floor plans, Gambu told City Press in June.
Speaking on the matter of the structural unsafety of the pacemaker lab, Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed that “an investigation unravelled that the flooding was caused by a blocked toilet that overflowed”.
“The flooding has been resolved and continuous inspection is conducted as this area is currently being repaired and not used. The division of cardiology is using resources in our cluster hospitals to perform theatre procedures,” Kekana said.
Kekana added that the hospital was undergoing remedial work to address the structural and mechanical problems that have been identified.