RICHARD Ndlovu watched helplessly as his little niece suffered for a week before eventually succumbing to mushroom poisoning at Mpilo Central Hospital last Wednesday.
BY SILAS NKALA/ SINDISO DUBE/NUNURAI JENA
The child, Rutendo, was the fifth from the same family from Bulawayo’s Makokoba suburb to die after eating the poisonous mushrooms.
Ndlovu strongly believes that if doctors at the institution were not on strike, at least one of the children would have survived.
“The little girl was admitted at Mpilo from last week and she had been in the intensive care unit. since then, she had been in pain,” he said.
“We could see from her condition that things were not well with her and we were holding only onto hope, but well, she has followed her siblings.”
Ndlovu’s harrowing tale was a recurring story among relatives and patients interviewed at Mpilo last week as the strike by doctor and nurses over poor working conditions intensified.
Thomas Fayayo, who was admitted on Thursday night, said he felt abandoned after nurses joined the strike the following day.
“I was admitted last night (Thursday) but when I woke up expecting to be treated and given food, I was told that nurses had downed tools,” he said.
“So we had to wait till mid-morning to be attended to. I am in pain and if this situation continues, I don’t see myself getting better any time soon.”
Byron Nkomo, who was accompanying his ailing father, said he feared his father would die before receiving treatment as the family could not afford to take him to a private hospital.
“This could be the end of him,” he said. “I don’t have money to take him to a private hospital.
“Those with money have taken their relatives to private hospitals. we just hope and pray, but my father’s situation needs urgency.”
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association’s Matabeleland representative, Kevin Kusano said the strike would continue until their demands were addressed.
Mpilo Central Hospital’s clinical services director Solwayo Ngwenya appealed to the nurses and doctors to return to work.
“We have placed a few senior nurses to help with emergency cases and this is really affecting the hospital and putting innocent lives at risk,” he said.
“I urge the doctors and nurses to come back to work and resolve this matter with the government whilst they offer services.”
Meanwhile, services at Chinhoyi District Hospital were limited yesterday as doctors and nurses pressed on with their job boycott.
A nurse who refused to be named for professional reasons said the hospital administration owed them allowances arising from their duties in the private wards and overtime that should be paid by the institution.
“We have been patient for too long,” she said.
“When you see us refusing to go to work it’s not an issue that started now, but we have been negotiating with the administration for years to no avail.”
However, Chinhoyi District Hospital superintendent Collet Mawire played down the strike saying the nurses had some few grievances that the management was addressing.
“Nurses are at work. they had some few grievances which they brought to our attention and we are addressing that. things should be back to normal,” he said.