Baragwanath hospital runs out of food, nurses pool money to buy patients corn on cob for lunch

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Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg.
PHOTO: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images
  • NGOs had to donate food to patients after the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg ran out.
  • Random Acts of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread, 400 sandwiches and other items on Wednesday.  
  • From Thursday, the organisation will donate 400 loaves of bread a day. 

Doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Johannesburg say that for the past three weeks, the patient food supply has been declining.  

They say things got so bad on Tuesday that nurses had to use their own money to buy patients bread for breakfast. For lunch, the patients had food purchased from street vendors. 

Speaking to News24 on condition of anonymity, a doctor said the lack of food was a humanitarian crisis.  

"It’s a humanitarian disaster. This week during my rounds, nurses told me they had to buy bread for patients for breakfast. Things got so worse that during lunch, they bought them each corn on the cob," said the doctor.

The doctor added: 

"How do I, as a physician, prescribe them medication when they have no food? This is horrible, especially because we are a tertiary institution in an urban setting. These are the worst straits we’ve ever been in."

Healthcare workers had realised how severe the matter was and roped in two charity organisations to assist.

A second doctor echoed the sentiments of the first.On Wednesday, non-profit organisation Random Acts of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread, 400 sandwiches, milk, and jam.  

Speaking to News24, the organisation’s Shariff Khan said:

"We were contacted by doctors who said they wanted help with food for their patients. Our job is to help, so we did."

Khan said after he put the information on social media, the hospital management had contacted him, and they had a meeting on Wednesday afternoon.  

"They said they have a shortage of bread. So, now we are going to work in conjunction with the hospital and deliver 400 loaves of bread to them every day."

On Thursday, employees are expected to protest over the lack of food and against the termination of Covid-19 posts at the Soweto hospital.

NGOs had to step in after the Chris Hani Baragwana
NGO Random Act of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread and 400 sandwiches after patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital ran out of food.
Supplied Supplied

They say the diversion of patients from the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital after a fire has added to staff shortages.  

READ | The impact of Charlotte Maxeke’s delayed opening

Last week, there were protests at the hospital after intern doctors were not paid for two months because of an administrative problem with the provincial health department. 

This week, Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi said 50 medical interns in the province had been paid.  

NGOs had to step in after the Chris Hani Baragwana
NGO Random Act of Kindness donated 100 loaves of bread and 400 sandwiches after patients at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital ran out of food.
Supplied Supplied

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the hospital didn't run out of food. "All other types of food are served. There was only a shortage of bread." 

She said the problem had been resolved and bread supply capacity improved.  "Hospitals in the province have not reported general food challenges, however a few others had similar bread supply challenges."  

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