Wits' Faculty of Health Sciences calls for the reopening of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

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Die Charlotte Maxeke-hospitaal in Johannesburg het op 16 April groot skade gelei toe ’n brand daar uitgebreek het. Die hospitaal is sedertdien gesluit.  Foto: Twitter/ Gauteng Health
Die Charlotte Maxeke-hospitaal in Johannesburg het op 16 April groot skade gelei toe ’n brand daar uitgebreek het. Die hospitaal is sedertdien gesluit. Foto: Twitter/ Gauteng Health
  • Wits University's Faculty of Health Sciences has called for the reopening of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
  • The hospital has been closed for more than two months following a fire. 
  • Wits medical students are assigned clinical work at the hospital.

Wits University's Health Sciences Faculty has joined the call to reopen Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMAJH). 

The hospital was closed after it was gutted by a fire nearly two months ago. 

Medical students at the university use the academic hospital for their clinical work.  

The university said with water issues at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child and Helen Joseph hospitals, the continued closure of Charlotte Maxeke meant healthcare in the province was constrained. 

Mandy Wiener | Gauteng hospital crisis: Stop blaming each other and act. People are dying

The institution added with the Covid-19 third wave, this might lead to the "collapse of an already unstable system".

"The loss of critical bed space at CMAJH has put undue pressure on other hospitals that are currently functioning at capacity. What we face is no longer just a health care crisis - it is a humanitarian crisis," said the Health Sciences Faculty's dean, Professor Martin Veller.  

He added the hospital's closure not only had an impact on patients who needed care, but also on medical students. 

charlotte maxeke
SAHRC conducts site inspection at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.

"Although students allocated to CMAJH were distributed to other teaching hospitals, this only served to add to the burden and stress of clinicians trying to manage the service delivery crisis.

"Student numbers across the other clinical platforms have reached a level that prevents proper clinical exposure and training. Inadequate clinical training of undergraduate students has a knock-on effect on the capabilities of this group as future interns and doctors." 

Last week, Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the provincial government wanted to declare the hospital a local state of disaster so it could reopen quicker.

READ | Makhura: 'Lack of water in hospitals, the fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital give me sleepless nights'

This means while the building is being fixed and compliance issues are resolved, parts of the hospital might reopen. 

The Wits Health Sciences Faculty believes this might be a good idea.

"It is our belief that our provincial health system simply cannot withstand the ongoing closure. The undamaged parts of CMAJH should be reopened as a matter of urgency to prevent further collapse of the system," it said. 

Gauteng infrastructure department spokesperson Bongiwe Gambu said the hospital could not be reopened yet. 

She added the work still outstanding was fixing all areas damaged by the fire, an occupational health and safety compliance that had to be put in place, and that all the necessary and legislated work on the fire had been done and complied with as required by the City of Johannesburg. 

"The Department of Infrastructure continues to work around the clock, including on weekends, to ensure that work is done and that the hospital can be reopened soon. At this moment, we are unable to provide a date for such." 

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