A doctor at the Kakamega County Referral Hospital became a victim of the ongoing nurses’ strike after he lost his eight-month-old baby at the facility.

This came even as reports from Naivasha indicated three patients had died at the sub-county hospital in the last three days. Eight other patients were reported to have died between Monday and Tuesday at the Coast General Hospital.

While the deaths could not directly be attributed to the strike, county officials acknowledged that the strike had complicated services at the Coast region’s largest health facility.

In Kakamega, Winston Ongalo experienced firsthand the effects of the strike when his baby, Sahim Ongalo, died at the county referral hospital.

Dr Ongalo said the baby who had malaria was first taken to Nala hospital after developing breathing difficulties.

But since there was no oxygen at Nala, he took the child to the referral hospital. However, he found the store where medical supplies were kept locked and therefore could not access oxygen to save his child.

It is believed there was no one to open the store as nurses kept off work.

“I am a doctor and I have been saving lives. However, today I was unable to save my own child as there was no oxygen, no drugs, no syringes and no gloves. I helplessly watched my child die,” he lamented.

This came as two people were confirmed dead at the hospital as the strike entered day three.

The referral hospital’s medical superintendent John Akoto said the two died as there was no nurse to attend to them.

Akoto said they were only offering outpatient services as they awaited the outcome of negotiations between the Council of Governors (CoG), Kenya National of Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the Sarah Serem-led Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).

Akoto further said they had discharged all patients and advised them to seek services at private facilities.

Students from the Kenya Medical Training Institute were seen assisting management take care of patients, an arrangement Renson Bunyula, the Kakamega KNUN secretary general, opposed.

At Busia County Referral Hospital, wards were empty save for Ward Four where patients who had undergone surgery were recovering. Deputy medical superintendent Steven Oketch said they were only attending to emergency cases.

“We are only dealing with emergency cases because nurses are not at the facility,” Dr Oketch said.

Local KNUN secretary general Juliet Adagala said the strike would continue until their concerns are addressed.

Governor Sospeter Ojaamong exonerated county bosses and instead laid blame on SRC.

“We can’t sign the agreement when SRC has not finalised part of its bargain to bring out exactly what are we are going to sign. We have no problems with the nurses. Our only bone of contention is the SRC,” he said.

In Naivasha, patients died while undergoing treatment. The the number of patients at the sub-county hospital dropped to 40 per cent.

But the management said the deaths were not occasioned by the strike even as relatives embarked on the painful process of transferring their kin to private hospitals.

A medic who declined to be named said the three died due to the strike. “The three required attention from nurses around the clock and their condition deteriorated when the strike started, leading to deaths,” said the source.

Terminal illnesses

Medical superintendent Joseph Mburu said some of the patients were suffering from terminal illnesses.

This came as the Council of Governors called on nurses to go back to work to allow negotiations on their CBA.

However, CoG chairman Josphat Nanok also termed the strike illegal. “Nurses have not registered their strike or a dispute with their counties,” Nanok said.

Labour CS Phyllis Kandie called for dialogue. Ms Kandie, who met CoG and nurses officials, said she was unhappy the talks had taken too long.

source: Standard Digital news Kenya