It will be 2023 by the time parts of the fire-ravaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital reopen, the Gauteng legislature has been told.
And, while authorities' medium-term plans indicate that more parts of the hospital will reopen in two years, there still isn't a date for when the hospital will be fully operational again.
This has emerged in the Gauteng legislature in Infrastructure MEC Tasneem Motara's response to questions about repairs to the hospital after it was destroyed in a fire earlier this year.
"The hospital was built between [the] mid and the late 1970s. As legislation progressed, the hospital, being a fixed asset, cannot be rebuilt. In order to achieve full compliance, the team had to look for alternative solutions to make the hospital compliant [with] the latest legislation where feasible," Motara says.
Parts of the hospital that fall under the medium-term plans, according to Motara, are "areas declared structurally safe and deemed critical by the clinicians to resume medical operations".
Those in the long-term plans are on the northern side of the hospital and were damaged by the fire.
"Dates [are] dependent on the outcome of the forensic investigation and the detailed structural investigation recommendations," she says.
Currently, the oncology department is open.
Other patients have been referred to nearby facilities for medical attention.
DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom says the situation has put hospitals, such as Helen Joseph Hospital, under extreme pressure: "Charlotte Maxeke is irreplaceable because it is an academic hospital. They have rerouted to other hospitals. Helen Joseph is suffering the worst. They can't cope."
He says a period of two years is a long time to wait for the reopening of the hospital.
"They need to speed up the opening of the hospital, but they are likely to miss their own deadline. This is ridiculous. It's very devastating for patients."
Bloom says more than 2 000 people have been waiting for cataract operations that have been postponed because of the situation.
Fixing the hospital also comes at a high cost.
According to Motara, the estimated costs for a staircase and ramp entrance, electrical installation and steel canopy, among other things, for the oncology department is R7 543 255.52.
Propping the burnt block costs R19 256 336, and fire installations for three blocks cost R111 183 700.
There is still no cost estimate for the remaining blocks.