One of the damaged ceilings at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital where staff say shocking conditions at the facility are putting lives at risk.

Damaged ceilings, leaks and non-functioning air conditioners are among the problems that staffers say impact on their working conditions, and little has been done to sort out the situation.

One nurse at the hospital, who asked not to be named, said these kinds of challenges have been ongoing at the hospital for more than 10 years.

“We have been reporting our problems since 2004 to different CEOs who have come and gone, but little has been done,” the nurse said.

Potential danger

In late January this year the ceiling in the Dental Techniques Laboratory collapsed, leading to its closure. It has since been reopened, but water leaks are still experienced.

“We have organised several meetings with the management to show them that this is a danger to us and the patients. But nothing was done, and now we feel we cannot continue working like this,” she said.

The nurse said that while money was budgeted every year for hospital maintenance, Charlotte Maxeke Hospital was repeatedly overlooked.

“The only time there was maintenance in our hospital was when they were renovating the nurses’ homes. And that only happened after the media got involved.”

The only time there was maintenance in our hospital was when they were renovating the nurses’ homes. And that only happened after the media got involved.

Staff say they believe their lives and those of their patients were in danger while hospital management appeared unconcerned.

“They are comfortable in their offices and they don’t know what is happening in the wards. The budget is allocated for our institution, but you ask yourself that why the entire institution is falling apart.”

Buckets used to collect water leaks

The nurse said that in Paediatric Ward 285 buckets were being used to collect water leaks dripped from the ceiling.

“What if that ceiling collapses on a patient or myself? I’m scared of working in ward 285.”

According to Theo Nkoki, spokesperson for the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, authorities are aware of the bad conditions in some wards at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

The department is in the process of fixing the various leaks at the facility, but in some instances the total ward refurbishments that are needed can only happen when decanting space is available to avoid the disruption in the hospital.”

Nkoki said the reason it took so long for his department to be made aware of the leaks at the hospital was the fact that a long period had passed with no rain.

Maintenance of health facilities happens annually, and in most cases, the roof leaks in facilities will only be visible during the rainy season. It should be noted that South Africa was going through a drought for quite a long time. Gauteng is one of the provinces that has recently experienced heavy rains, hence the leaks at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital have become apparent,” he said.