Baby dies after patients block Casualty Ward's entrance

26 Nov 2013 16:00pm
By Tjikunda Kulunga
OPUWO, 26 NOV (NAMPA) - A three-month-old baby died at the Opuwo State Hospital’s casualty ward on Sunday whilst disgruntled patients were blocking its entrance and accusing nurses of favouritism in carrying out their duties.
The nurses were embroiled in a heated exchange with more than 30 patients, who stormed into the ward and alleged that they had been waiting to be helped for hours, yet the nurses were allegedly first helping “friends and relatives”.
The incident brought work in the ward to a standstill from 21h15 to 23h30, and led to the matron of the Opuwo State Hospital, Lisias Ashivudhi and the principal doctor of the same hospital, Dr Refanus Kooper having to intervene to bring the situation under control.
Kooper later said the patients were to blame for the baby’s death as they prevented her from receiving medical attention by blocking the entrance.
When Nampa arrived at the casualty ward at around 21h30, the door of the facility was being guarded by two security guards, while a large group of patients was standing outside.
Six other patients were still inside the casualty ward, involved in an exchange with the nurses.
Jasuva Kuvare, who spoke on behalf of the rest of the patients, accused the nurses of practicing favouritism in rendering their services.
“Some of us have been lining up since 15h00, and have not been treated. Some people just come from wherever and bypass the line to be treated first, which is really unfair,” a fuming Kuvare said.
According to the aunt of the deceased baby, who asked not to be named, the baby was brought to the casualty ward at around 19h00, and died while the nurses and patients were involved in the bad altercation.
The baby was next in line to be treated when the fiasco broke out.
Ashivudhi said immediate investigations revealed that the patients who were still in the ward were not related to the two nurses on duty.
He explained to the angry mob that the Casualty Department was meant for serious emergency cases.
“We made an exception to also attend to patients who happen to seek medical assistance at the Casualty Ward, given the fact that we are aware of the shortages of nurses and the fact that the clinics cannot treat all the patients every day. It was done to help reduce the number of patients,” he explained.
Ashivudhi added that as a result, queues started forming at this ward, but when serious cases arrived which are seen as emergency situations, the line is disregarded and such patients are attended to.
“This is what was being done, and community members or patients who were in the line misinterpreted that as favouritism and accused nurses of treating their relatives and friends first, which is not true,” he stated.
One of the nurses, Josef Mutumbulua, excused himself from work after the marathon verbal fight and left the Casualty Ward, leaving the already agitated patients in the hands of his stretched colleague and the principal doctor.
Kooper, who confirmed the baby’s death, said he suspects that the baby may have suffered from severe pneumonia.
He said the baby could not receive treatment as the disgruntled patients blocked the door for more than one hour, and when medical staff finally got to have a look at the baby, she had already died.
The baby’s parents can open a case against the people who prevented the child from receiving medical attention on time, the doctor added, and an investigation will also be carried out.
Kooper said such behaviour from community members was very discouraging, given the shortages of nurses, and how overworked nurses at the establishment indeed are.
He thus called on community members to try and understand how institutions such as hospitals work before making insensitive accusations against medical officials.