A devastating fire broke out at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg on Friday
Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH), Previously known as Johannesburg General Hospital has been closed down for a week following a devastating fire that had 60 firefighters battling to bring it under control.
The fire started Friday morning and had been doused by the afternoon but then it reignited in the evening and continued burning overnight.
The fire has caused extensive damage to the hospital, which has more than 1,000 beds and serves Johannesburg, a city of 6 million people, and the surrounding Gauteng province. It is one of the biggest public hospitals in the country.
Premier of Gauteng, David Makhuru announced that the hospital in Johannesburg will be temporarily shut down for seven days to assess the situation. Services at the hospital have been suspended and no patients will be allowed into the hospital.
The Gauteng Dept of Health said in an official statement that “Firefighters are currently working to bring under control the fire that broke out late Friday morning around 11h20. Details on the cause of the fire are still unknown, the relevant authorities will immediately commence with investigations once the fire has been extinguished.”
The primary focus at this stage is to save lives and ensure a total evacuation of all the remaining 270 patients to other facilities. The evacuation of patients is a safety precaution due to concern about smoke contamination.
As of Saturday, 17 April at 07,15 AM over 415 patients were evacuated from the CMJAH to various facilities across the province.
“CMJAH has been diverting incoming patients to other facilities since Friday at noon and is not taking any new patients,” said Kwara Kekana, Spokesperson: Gauteng MEC for Health, “We are appealing to walk-in patients to seek medical services at other facilities closest to them.”
13 of the patients who were transferred were positive for Covid-19 with two patients in the ICU.
The Bulletin spoke to Shayne van den Heever from Langamed Services South regarding the impact that this closure would have on patients in Mpumalanga.
“With the restricted amount of specialist care in the Mpumalanga province, many patients who are taken to smaller hospitals e.g. Evander, Bethal etc. need to be referred to a larger facility for specialist care,” said Shayne.
“These hospitals in Mpumalanga are Witbank General, Rob Ferrera and Ermelo General however if these hospitals are full or the specialists need further assistance, then the patients get transferred to Gauteng, usually Charlet Macheke, Steve Biko or Baragwanath hospitals.”
“With Charlet Macheke now closed, Gauteng will have a general shortage of beds, which in turn will prevent beds being opened for patients from other provinces, Gauteng Dept of Health is mandated to the Gauteng population first and only thereafter to the other provinces,” continued Shayne, “This means that patients that need care that is not available in Mpumalanga will possibly now need to wait even longer before being admitted into one of these specialist hospitals.”