Covid-19 shouldn't make hospitals to ignore patients


It is good to hear that detectives from the homicide unit have taken over investigations into the death of renowned author and journalist Ken Walibora (pictured).

We expect them to, among others, tell us who stabbed him in the hand and who was/were chasing him along Landhies Road when he was hit by a matatu. The public would also want to know whether the author was robbed before he met his death.

But we expect more from the investigators. Going by media reports, it is possible Prof Walibora could have survived even after the assault and being hit by the bus had he been assisted promptly.

First, there are claims that the first ambulance that arrived at the scene did not take him to hospital as expected; that Walibora was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) by an ambulance that came later. Why didn't the first one rescue him?

But that's not all. Walibora could have gone through worse. When he was taken to KNH at around 10.30am, it is suspected he remained unattended at the facility’s emergency unit until he died 12 hours later.

If true, that is completely unacceptable. There are allegations that medical personnel there were afraid of attending to the patient due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It would be a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the hospital for a critically injured patient to remain unattended to even for one hour. The coronavirus should not be an excuse for hospitals not to treat patients. In fact, KNH, being the biggest public hospital in Kenya, should show other hospitals how to attend to all patients at this time.

If health workers have no protective gear, clients should be directed to other hospitals. In fact, there is no point of a hospital that is not ready to serve patients to open its doors. Investigators should establish what exactly transpired at KNH and ensure anyone who could have led to Walibora's death is punished.

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