Charlotte Maxeke: Gift of Givers delivers

Celebrating the new stores facility at CMJAH. (Photo: Lilita Gcwabe)

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH) now boasts a new general stores dispensary worth R60 million. And it’s all thanks to the Gift of the Givers. Two years ago a devastating fire damaged the hospital’s stores facility and other sections of the facility.  Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla acknowledged the department failed to act fast enough

“Initially we were all optimistic that it was a small thing but by the following morning, we saw that it was a major disaster. We admit that it took us too long to intervene and to act toward fixing the hospital,” says Phaahla.

The minister says a lot more work has to happen. He says the department focused on the emergency unit and the hospital parking. 

“There’s still a lot of work to be done here at the hospital and in the public health facilities all over the country to improve the quality of health services.”

'The Charlotte Maxeke situation breaks my heart' - professor
Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital was devastated by a fire in 2021. (Photo: Google Maps)

Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, Director of the Gift of the Givers, says the stores facility is critical to the hospital so the organisation decided to focus on rebuilding it. 

“When we came on site there were different options. Many people were interested in where the fire affected the parking and we realised that the stores are critical. When the teams went in, it was not fireproof or fire resistant.” 

Sooliman says the poor fire standards at the hospital kept it closed for so long. “That is what has cost us the biggest amount of money to fix. While we worked on repairing this and fixing it, the CEO told us she wants to fix up the stores and we had no problem putting up an extra budget for this.” 

Sooliman says the organisation aims to set a high standard in the infrastructure of public health services in the country. 

Maximum security and double shelving space

The 3 500m2 building is more than double the size of the previous facility with the aim to increase the capacity of storage at the hospital. 

“The security system includes cameras in the building and control room. Every person going in and out is documented by a fingerprint biometric system. We can see the time you entered, what you did, and the time that you left,” says Hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshi.

Bogoshi says the facility will store stock worth R40-million. This will include other items that the hospital could not store before due to the size of the previous stores. 

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko says the new storage facility will be a central hub for storing and managing vital medical supplies, equipment and pharmaceuticals. 

“It has been meticulously designed to ensure that our healthcare providers have quick and convenient access to the medicine they need and when they need them. An item which will have its designated place and adhere to proper store age requirements will minimise the risk of errors, cross-contamination, or the use of expired items.”

 Equipped to manage and contain fires 

The fire started in the hospital’s storeroom so it was important to ensure that the newly built facility was fireproof.  Mfundo Langa, Fire Technologist on the project, says that the team ensured the new storage facility had extra safety measures. 

“We conducted assessments to ensure that there are enough safety compartments in the store. We have sprinklers and fire hydrants, which automatically detect a fire and release water.

The facility has fireproof doors and walls that will contain any future fires. The doors have fire dampers and will close automatically when there is a fire.

“We also made sure there’s enough signage to make people aware about where the escape and fire hydrants are.” 

The facility also has water tanks that contain 900 000 litres of water for the sprinklers, hoses, and hydrants. Langa says this means any fire can be fought before emergency services arrive 

“The water capacity will last for 90 minutes. We have two pumps that will automatically activate in a fire, the primary that is electrical and the secondary that is diesel as a backup so that even in loadshedding, the pumps will still work.”

Department needs more than 12 months 

It emerged it will take another year to fully repair the hospital. Initially, authorities committed to completing repairs by the end of this year. 

Nathi Mahlangu, Senior Architect and Project Manager from the Development Bank of Southern Africa says many areas still require attention. 

“These are mainly fire remedial works that have to be done. This includes fire compliance, and facility ward compliance which we have initiated and will run concurrently. We have received submissions on these and are in the middle of evaluations,”

The department aims to have contractors on site by June, and the fire remedial works will begin in November.

“What will take a much longer time will be the facility ward compliance assurance because we won’t be able to completely evacuate all sections of the hospital. We’re estimating that it will take about 36 months to complete this, including the work this year.” 

Bogoshi says the ongoing work will not interrupt clinical services. Instead, the hospital that sees over 1034 patients a day will use a decanting strategy to move patients safely moved across different areas of the hospital.  – Health-e News

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