The DA on Wednesday warned the continued closure of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJH) due to fire damage was negatively affecting patients, especially those diagnosed with cancer who are not receiving treatment elsewhere.
The party’s spokesperson on health in Gauteng, Jack Bloom, said cancer patients were being told via a hotline to go to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital for chemotherapy or Steve Biko Hospital for radiotherapy.
However, when the patients arrive at the health facilities, they are told they are new patients and this delays their treatment.
“In one case, a patient was told she had to go through a series of tests to be diagnosed for cancer even though this was already confirmed at CMJH. These cancer patients have effectively been abandoned and their lives are at avoidable risk,” Bloom said in a statement.
More than 800 patients had to be transferred to other health facilities in the province after a fire gutted two blocks of the hospital last month.
The fire started in a dispensary section where personal protective equipment and other essential supplies were kept.
CMJH apologises to cancer patients
The CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Gladys Bogoshi, on Wednesday apologised to cancer patients who had been affected by the fire.
She said the hospital’s radiation oncology department was severely affected by the fire, which has resulted in delays in downloading patients’ records.
“But what was an advantage for us is that the machines that we bought in our department are the same as the ones at Steve Biko Hospital. So our staff were relocated to Steve Biko Hospital to see how they can assist in terms of insuring that they move our patients to the hospital and be able to be treated there,” Bogoshi told Radio 702.
She said officials were struggling to access patients’ records on the system, but this was being resolved.
“According to the head of the department, 150 patients who are on the programme and yesterday [Tuesday] they were able to download 20 patients’ information.”
Meanwhile, Bloom called on the Gauteng health department to contract private hospitals to treat the cancer patients affected by the closure of the oncology unit at CMJH.
“Alternative arrangements need to be made as soon as possible as it is unlikely that the CMJH oncology unit will open soon as it is in the most damaged part of the hospital.”