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Nakuru family cry for help to have hospitals release bodies of their kin for burial

By Mercy Kahenda and Allan Mungai | Updated Wed, March 8th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Nancy Thunguri displays a photo of her son who died at Mathari Mission Hospital in Nyeri on February 19. [PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD]

Two families are seeking help to have their kin's bodies released by hospitals for burial.

Both families were forced to seek medical assistance for their relatives at private health facilities after being turned away from public institutions due to the ongoing doctors' strike.

In Nakuru County, the family of Teresia Wairimu, 78, who was hospitalised at Mediheal Hospital, is seeking to offset a Sh800,000 bill to have her body released for burial.

Ms Wairimu, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour, died on January 3.

Her family failed to raise money required by the hospital.

Patrick Mwaura, Wairimu's son, said she was taken to Kikuyu Hospital in November, and was later referred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), but there were no doctors due to the ongoing strike.

On December 28, the family took Wairimu to Mediheal. The mortuary bill stands at Sh100,000 and counting.

Friends, relatives and well-wishers only managed to raise Sh415,000, said Mwaura.

He said despite paying the amount, the hospital management was still demanding clearance of the whole bill before handing them the body.

Mediheal hospital administrator Devraj Santos said the hospital could not release the body until the family clears the pending bill.

He said the accumulated hospital bill was Sh840,000, adding that the administration had given the family a Sh50,000 a discount.

"The family has paid some money and will be able to release the body if they pay at least Sh700,000," he said.

And in Nyeri County, Nancy Thunguri, a 35-year-old mother of two lost her seven-year-old son but cannot pick the body for burial over an unpaid bill of Sh382,000.

Ms Thunguri's son, Eric Wambugu, passed on at Consolata Mission Hospital, Mathari three weeks ago from burns sustained when a kerosene stove exploded. The Standard Two pupil suffered fourth and fifth-degree burns over 35 per cent of his body and had to be admitted at Karatina Level Four Hospital on November 21.

After clinical officers and nurses did their best over two weeks to save Wambugu, they advised Thunguri to seek treatment at Kenyatta National Hospital but she could not raise the Sh12,000 required to hire an ambulance.

"I said I could not raise the money to afford the ambulance and instead asked to be referred to Nyeri (County Referral Hospital)," she said. Wambugu needed an urgent transfusion but doctors had begun their strike.

After about a month and her son's worsening condition, she opted for Mathari, a medical facility run by the Catholic Church. She paid a Sh10,000 deposit and hoped for the best.

Wambugu was admitted at the mission hospital for two and a half months. He died on February 19.

The hospital wouldn't the body until the Sh382,000 bill is fully settled.

"I have managed to raise about Sh60,000 from a harambee," she said. Thunguri is appealing for help to raise remaining amount.

On the other hand, Consolata Mathari Hospital Chief Executive Bernard Muriithi said the matter had not been referred to his office and doubted whether the family had explored all channels to come to an agreement with the hospital. "But since the case has not been referred to my office, I would like to know the extent to which talks have reached," he said.

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