By HEZRON OCHIEL
One person died and cries of suffering patients reverberated countrywide as medical workers continued with their strike yesterday.
Sadly, it seems there is little hope of the crisis ending soon after the Council of Governors stuck to its guns and insisted that workers were being unrealistic in their demands.
Chairman of Health Committee in the council Jack Ranguma said the workers had made it tough for the Government to negotiate with them.
“We have tried to negotiate with them but they keep on shifting goalposts like they do not know what they want,” said Mr Ranguma.
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As he said this, a middle-aged man named Joel was said to have died allegedly after he was thrown out of a hospital in Kisumu.
According to his relatives, the 24-year-old mason was discharged prematurely from Kisumu East District Hospital on Wednesday and later forced out of facility by guards. The guards are alleged to have dumped him outside the hospital, where he spent the night in cold, rainy weather.
The mason was admitted to the hospital last week after he was allegedly hurled down a two-storey building by his former employer, when he went to demand his pay.
‘‘We rushed him to the district hospital where he underwent head surgery. But when the strike begun, he was discharged while in critical condition,’’ said Pamela Agutu, Joel’s sister.
She added: ‘‘When we returned (to the hospital) we found him lying at the gate being rained on. We then took him to a private hospital but they didn’t have enough facilities, forcing us to move to yet another hospital. He died on the way,’’ said Ms Agutu.
Kisumu County Director of Medical Services, Dr Ojwang Lusi, said he was unaware of the death, as it had not been reported to his office.
When The Standard visited the hospital, the beds were empty as most patients had been discharged. Only a few helpless patients were still there. Major facilities in the hospital including maternity unit, pharmacy, laboratory and registry remained shut.
At the mortuary section, bodies remained unattended to after the attendants were forcefully evicted.
Things are very bad
At Nyanza General Hospital, relatives were busy transferring their patients to middle-level private hospitals.
“Things are very bad here. I can no longer wait, I have to take my patient to a private hospital,’’ Jane Adhiambo told The Standard.
Governor Jack Ranguma and Lusi toured the facilities to assess the situation.
‘‘The situation is very bad. We are, however, putting in place emergency measures to alleviate the suffering of patients,’’ he said.
Ranguma said, contrary to allegations by the health staff, county governments are capable of paying them just like the rest of their workers.
He said the strike was illegal and health practitioners should have given room for negotiations as they continued with their work.
Elsewhere, operations at Kakamega Provincial General Hospital remained paralysed as health workers vowed not to relent until the Government returns to the negotiating table.
The Chairman, Association of Public Health Officers Western Chapter Michael Nyongesa asked health workers participating in polio immunisation and other health seminars to stop the exercise until the Government “is ready for dialogue”.
Executive Secretary, Kenya National Union of Nurses Western Region, Nelson Bulunya reiterated that the workers were not against devolution but they were only concerned about the capability of county governments to efficiently handle the sector.
He said devolution of healthcare should be implemented diligently and in phases to allow counties to put in place proper structures and guidelines.
“We want the contentious issues in the Constitution amended, which only require an Act of Parliament to resolve this stalemate,” Bulunya said.