Doctors and clinical officers from Kirinyaga County have joined nurses in protesting against the deplorable state of Kerugoya Referral Hospital and have demanded that Governor Anne Waiguru immediately reinstates all the 346 casual health workers who were sacked last month.
They complained that their lives and those of the patients are now in danger because of the filthy condition of the hospital and gave the governor 72 hours to meet their demand or face industrial action.
Already, four nurses have contracted hepatitis B and diarrhoea apparently for working in unhygienic conditions.
“It is true that two nurses are suffering from hepatitis B and two others are have running stomachs and are undergoing treatment,” said the Kirinyaga Kenya National Union of Clinical Officers Chairman Paul Mwangi.
The doctors lamented that the situation is messy and that the hospital may be closed any time.
They accused the county government of laying off the casual workers without taking into consideration the crucial job they were doing.
“We have only a handful permanent subordinate staff who are cleaning the hospital and they can’t be able to handle all the wards, other rooms and wash the linen. Our health has been compromised,” said Mr Mwangi.
The Waiguru administration sent home the workers in a bid to cut the ballooning wage bill.
The sacked workers said they had not been paid for four months by the time they were dismissed.
The county government hopes to save Sh44 million annually which was being paid to the sacked workers.
While speaking to journalists at the hospital, the protesting doctors vowed to lay down their tools if the governor fails to act fast.
“We have written to the governor giving her an ultimatum within which to meet our demands. If nothing happens, then we shall go on strike,” said Mr Mwangi.
The letter is copied to County Commissioner Jim Njoka and County Secretary Joe Muriuki.
The physicians reiterated that they are tired of working in dirty hospital where patients are getting very poor services.
They observed that there are no workers to serve food to patients and wash the very ill ones being treated in the wards.
The situation is the same at Kianyaga, Kimbimbi and Sagana hospitals and there is hue and cry from the public.
A member of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, Dr Samuel Muchai, who works at the hospital, said a strike is inevitable if the worsening situation persists without intervention by the county government.
Ms Regina Wambui, the Kenya National Union of Nurses local branch secretary narrated how the nurses have been struggling to cope with the pathetic state of the hospital.
“The task of maintaining cleanliness in the hospital is challenging to the nurses. They can’t do it and take care of all the patients seeking treatment here,” said Ms Wambui.
Hospital wards are teeming with flies due to stinking and blocked toilets while dirty linen litters the floors, a clear evidence of an acute shortage of cleaners.
Due to lack of enough linen in the hospital patients are forced to carry bedsheets from home when being admitted for treatment.
The maternity ward is the worst hit as expectant mothers and those who have already delivered are sharing two toilets as others had blocked as there are no workers to attend to them.
A patient, Mercy Nyaguthii, was shocked when she was admitted to the maternity when she found that there was no linen.
“I had to ask my relatives to bring me bedsheets for use as I wait to be taken to the labour room to deliver,” said Ms Nyaguthii.
Another patient, Felista Kanini expressed fear that an outbreak of various diseases is likely because human faeces are scattered everywhere.
“As you can see, flies are everywhere and rotting, uncollected garbage is heaped in various places within the hospital. We are sitting on a time bomb,” said Ms Kanini.
Meanwhile, the Kirinyaga Woman Representative Wangui Ngirici stormed the Kerugoya Hospital and called on the national government to intervene.
“I can’t believe what I’m seeing. The hospital is a sad story and I’m calling on the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Ms Cecily Kariuki, to ensure the government takes over the hospital temporarily and manage it before people start dying,” she said.
Ms Ngirici observed that the entire health sector in the region is in a crisis and threatened to mobilise residents to take to the streets in protest if something urgent is not done.
“I feel like crying when I see how patients, particularly mothers and children, are suffering. They have been abandoned and there is no one to take care of them,” she said.
She donated sanitary towels and sandals to women in the maternity ward and assured them that she will not keep quiet over the matter.