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The increased return of patients to Charlotte Maxeke University Hospital Johannesburg (CMJAH) for treatment, along with the reopening of more wards and increased availability of beds, could cause problems for Bertha Gxowa Hospital as it is on the point of losing CMJAH’s internal medical staff.
Charlotte Maxeke Hospital’s chief of internal medicine, Adam Mahomed, told City Press that his hospital’s internal medical staff, who were seconded to Bertha Gxowa following April’s devastating fire in last year, would return to the former by November 1.
“We are looking at around 27 nurses who are to return to CMJAH, and we also have around eight doctors placed in Bertha Gxowa who are to come back,” he explained, adding that initially, “around 35 nurses and 10 doctors from CMJAH were at Bertha Gxowa Hospital”.
“What has happened since we returned to Charlotte Maxeke where we are now, almost 91% of our beds have reopened and staff who had been seconded to Bertha Gxowa Hospital must now return and open more services at CMJAH .
“If you look at our bed occupancy, we’re close to about 900 beds,” he said.
In April last year, parts of the hospital caught fire, forcing it to close. Patients were referred to other hospitals, including Helen Joseph Hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath University Hospital and Bertha Gxowa Hospital, which were already overcrowded with patients, while more than 300 CMJAH staff were then seconded to other hospitals to assist CMJAH patients.
Mahomed told City Press that the presence of his hospital’s in-house medical staff at the hospital was key to increasing the capacity of Bertha Gxowa Hospital.
“There were wards that the hospital didn’t use that then got our [CMJAH] own staff using as they later became functional with our staff there.”
Mohamed then explained:
We also increased their bed capacity for intensive care and intensive care because we had our staff there. We have had many surgeries at Bertha Gxowa that were performed by CMJAH staff, but now that these surgeries are being performed at CMJAH, staff are needed at CMJAH to care for these patients.
“When we were at Bertha Gxowa Hospital, their capacity also increased because we were there. So there were wards that they weren’t using that we were using and we had our own staff.”
The head of internal medicine admitted that the resignation of healthcare workers as well as early retirement, which he said many had opted for following the devastating fire, was a major concern at all levels. He further explained that the call for the return of CMJAH staff to the facility had been discussed at length with Berth Gxowa Hospital.
“It’s not like we’re trying to compromise Bertha Gxowa Hospital, we’re trying to maintain essential services and we need staff back,” he said.
Earlier this year, City Press reported that a psychiatric patient had died after jumping from the third floor of a “critically understaffed” psychiatric ward at Bertha Gxowa Hospital.
Hospital staff claimed the incident happened because the hospital was understaffed.
“The reason people find the whole system difficult is that there are still a lot of vacancies that are not being filled, there are still a lot of early retirements and a lot of people have resigned because of the trauma of the fire, as well Covid-19. Getting replacement staff is also a challenge,” he added.
DA’s Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom agreed with Mahomed and added that while there is a need for “workers to return to CMJAH to restore full services there, Bertha Gxowa Hospital needs enough staff to operate as well”.
“The general picture is that most of our public hospitals are understaffed because staffing does not reflect the increased needs caused by population growth. Vacancies must be filled and additional positions created to meet real needs,” a- he told City Press.
In March, former Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi, in her written response to Bloom’s questions to the provincial legislature, revealed that there had been 220 staff resignations at CMJAH since the fire. last year and that at the time the hospital had 677 vacancies.
This included 355, as well as 88 medical staff.
Mahomed further explained that with the holiday season, his department at CMJAH would undoubtedly need every member of his medical staff.
By November 1, all of our in-house medical staff should be back at CMJAH. Basic doctors, from internal medicine to nurses in the internal nursing service.
“At the end of November and beginning of December we are recovering more rooms that were damaged as a result of the fire, so we need the staff to come back and start sorting things out,” he added.
Although Bertha Gxowa Hospital Communications Officer Mampe Marapyane told City Press that the hospital will resume functioning as before CMJAH healthcare workers were seconded to her facility.
She admitted it wouldn’t be easy. However, she lamented: “It’s not ideal because now the patient load has increased due to the CMJAH legacy.
“Hospital after-hours coverage will be severely affected for the internal medicine list. isn’t ideal; however, without positions to hire more physicians, we will have to close the gap that way.”
“Twenty-eight nurses who ran an intensive care unit left us. They helped us manage very ill patients who would otherwise have been in our intensive care unit. This helped us keep beds available for seriously ill patients. sick,” she said.
Although she confirmed that the CMJAH had recalled its staff, she said it had been done as early as last month.
“They have asked their team of doctors, nurses and other health workers to return to CMJAH on October 7. The effect is that we are now experiencing a shortage of beds in our intensive care unit,” a- she declared.
“Unfortunately, the only way to mitigate this is to contact CMJAH for critical care or critical care when we need a bed for this category of patients.”
“We had five doctors left; however, the CMJAH wants them back on November 1. They were helping with the management of medical patients in internal medicine wards, as well as intensive care patients.”
This article was updated on November 2 with comments from Bertha Gxowa Hospital Communications Manager.