- The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is plagued by ageing and broken infrastructure.
- The Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development MEC Lebogang Maile visited the hospital on Friday.
- He said a major overhaul was needed to fix all the issues.
After a week of alleged internal sabotage, Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development MEC Lebogang Maile says a major overhaul is needed at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
On Friday, Maile visited the hospital and, in addition to issues of sabotage, was confronted with a leaking roof and a flooded service area.
After a briefing from hospital CEO Dr Nkele Lesia, Maile inspected the "problem areas" at the 70-hectare medical facility in Soweto, south of Johannesburg.
"There are a lot of problems in this institution. There are a lot of infrastructure issues in many other [Johannesburg] hospitals too. I couldn't just come here and concentrate on the recent infrastructure challenges. Some issues have been here for a very long time," he said.
On the outside of the main hospital, a flooded "tunnel" was being drained.
The water engulfed the entire area, from floor to ceiling.
Lesia said it was a service area and that only once maintenance staff had drained the water would they know if it had come from a leaking pipe or from the recent heavy rains.
READ | Internal sabotage suspected after copper theft at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
She said the flooding was a combination of a poor roof design, poor maintenance of the gutter system and the heavy rain.
The MEC said he would return in January with other MECs "to deal with the issues".
"It's clear that age is affecting the infrastructure. We need to do an overhaul [of the facility]," he said, adding that if repairs were only made "piece by piece", the infrastructure would collapse.
He said it took a lot of work for staff to do their jobs correctly because of the state of the infrastructure.
"One example is that there is no emergency ramp in the ICU. And there are huge security challenges. These issues led to the stealing of copper pipes this week."
On Monday, a 10-metre copper oxygen supply pipeline to the hospital's main intensive care unit was stolen.
This affected 24 patients, including 19 on life support and dependent on access to oxygen through artificial ventilation.
READ | Health dept blames sabotage after Baragwanath Hospital suffers second incident of copper pipe theft
On Tuesday, copper piping supplying high-pressure water to two operating theatres was cut and stolen from the plant room.
Maile said there "is a huge possibility" that internal staff had stolen the copper piping.
"They would have to know where the pipes were, and only people here would know."
Speaking to News24 in the plant room on Friday, Maile pointed to how concealed the stolen pipe was.
A plant room is a mechanical area in a hospital which contains equipment to bring services, like water, oxygen and electricity, into the wards.
The water pipe was right at the back of the room in a section surrounded by many copper pipes. It has since been replaced.
"It's so devious. You see what we mean by sabotage. They had to come in here through a locked door. You wonder what the motive is."
READ | Copper pipe thieves compromise oxygen supply at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
In March, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) conducted an oversight visit of the hospital.
NCOP chairperson Amos Masondo appealed to the hospital's management to find innovative ways to improve the maintenance of the ageing infrastructure and human resources challenges.
"Poor maintenance of the ageing infrastructure and human capacitation are some of the major challenges that Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital needs to find solutions to urgently," he said.
In June, it was reported that 870 operations had been cancelled at the hospital because of infrastructure challenges like load shedding or stolen cables and no clean linen because of boilers or laundry machines not working.
And in October, it was revealed that the hospital maternity unit faces an estimated R1 billion in medical claims for negligence due to a shortage of staff members, broken operating theatres and non-functional equipment.