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Patients’ misery persists as nurses’ continue to strike

Health services at public hospitals countrywide remain paralyzed as the nurses and clinical workers strike enters its fifth week.

A spot-check at the Kajiado County Referral Hospital, Ngong and Kitengela sub-county hospitals on Thursday, revealed little activity taking place despite the doctors returning back to work.

Only a handful of patients could be seen at the normally busy waiting area, with most of them being sent back home and advised to seek services elsewhere as the doctors were only attending to referrals and emergency cases.

Wards remained empty, with the Intensive Care units closed as no admissions were going on. Only limited out-patient services were being offered.

A medical officer who did not want to be named revealed that very few services were currently being offered at the hospital despite doctors returning to work.

He said nurses and clinical officers offer crucial services and are the first contact with the patient before the doctor attends to them thus their absence makes it difficult for some services to be offered.

At the Kajiado County Referral Hospital, patients seeking dental services were sent back as there was no medication and personal protective equipment (gloves and masks).

Benard Malava, a patient who had visited the hospital to have his tooth removed, said he was only given pain killers and advised to seek services elsewhere as they had not yet fully resumed operations.

Malava said he does not have the money to visit a private facility and will be forced to opt for traditional herbs to sooth his toothache.

“I came here in the morning to have my tooth removed but I was told that they do not have medicine or gloves which they need to wear before attending to patients, so now I will just go back home as I don’t have money to go to a private hospital,” said Malava.

He called on the government to relieve patients of their suffering by entering into a return to work agreement with the nurses immediately so that medical services in the hospitals can return to normalcy.

Malava further called on the County Government to provide the medical workers with adequate personal protective gear so that they can attend to patients without exposing themselves to coronavirus.

Esther Nashipae said she had been forced to dig deeper into her pockets since the strike began so as to access medical services for her diabetic son at a private hospital.

Nashipae said she had visited the hospital when she heard that the doctor’s strike had been called off to check if she could bring her son for dialysis at the facility but she was told that the services were currently not being offered.

Nurses and clinical workers downed their tools on December 7, 2020 citing poor working conditions, lack of a comprehensive medical cover, and lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, unpaid allowances among others.

Doctors joined the striking nurses on December 21 but resumed work two weeks later after their demands were met.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has vowed to continue with the strike until their grievances are addressed and urged its members not to bow in to intimidation and threats of being sacked.

Taita Taveta County sacked over 500 health workers Monday for participating in the strike which they termed as illegal. The medical workers were sacked after they declined to return to work immediately as directed.

By Rop Janet

 

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