Oncology unit is the first department to open since the hospital closed down after a fire in April.
- The only public sector radiation oncology department in Johannesburg has reopened after a fire forced its closure in April.
- It is the first unit to reopen at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital but will only take existing outpatients.
- It is unclear when other sections will be able to reopen but this will be done in stages.
- The Gauteng health department says it will improve communication with patients about their treatment at the facility.
Johannesburg, South Africa (28 June 2021) – The radiation oncology section of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital welcomed 13 patients on Monday. This is the only facility to reopen after a fire forced the hospital to close in April.
The rest of the hospital will reopen through a “staggered approach”, said spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Health Kwara Kekana.
“The management is exploring other areas within the hospital that could potentially open. We are looking at areas that can service critical maternity patients and renal dialysis patients,” she said.
Currently, there is no clear timeline for the staggered reopening. Kekana said the department would communicate at a later stage when the next sections of the hospital will reopen.
According to Dr Duvern Ramiah, head of the radiation oncology department, the hospital is the only one in the public sector in Johannesburg to have a radiation department.
Ramiah said they would only be treating outpatients as they are not yet able to admit patients.
“We are only seeing patients who we have already consulted with. If all goes well, we will start taking new referrals from next week,” he said.
“We will slowly scale up by increasing the number of patients receiving radiotherapy by ten each day. For now, patients should not just come to the radiation oncology unit unless they are called,” said Ramiah.
He said they aim to reach optimal treatment capacity within a month.
Other patients should continue accessing treatment from sister hospitals, as the hospital is not accepting walk-ins, said CEO of Charlotte Maxeke Gladys Bogoshi.
“Those who are coming for radiation oncology will be called by the doctors, nurses or clerks. They will be told which day to come,” said Bogoshi.
Last week, oncology outpatients who are now receiving treatment at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital told GroundUp that they were not receiving communication from Charlotte Maxeke hospital regarding where to go for treatment and when the hospital would reopen.
Asked whether patients will receive direct communication, Kekana said they are working to rectify the problem.
“The interruption in services after the fire broke out is undesirable for patients and the team managing patients. The priority now is to get all patients back on the schedule to receive their treatment,” she said