For eight months, a family from Bulawayo’s Emganwini suburb did not bury the body of a loved one who died at the United Bulawayo Hospitals after he fell from the third floor of a building at the institution.
Welcome Moyo’s family is not happy about the circumstances surrounding his death at the hospital and is now demanding compensation, even after burying him two weeks ago.
Authorities said disciplinary action is being taken against some staff members following the death but the institution is not able to compensate the family.
The deceased’s mother, Mrs Rodah Moyo said her son was admitted for epileptic fits on a Saturday in September last year but hospital staff left him unattended, and he fell from the third floor to the ground.
Nurses did not inform the family or doctors about the fall but put him back on his bed and he died.
Family members first visited him in hospital a day after Welcome’s admission and were told he would be discharged the following day.
When they returned to the hospital to take him home, he was dead.
“The fact that they never phoned informing us that our son had fallen makes everything suspicious. The rumours that we refused to bury him are not true, because we would never do such.
We just asked for compensation but the hospital held the body,” she said. “The pain I am feeling is so out of this world, I’m still alive in flesh but deep down I am dead. What happened has taken away all the peace from me and my family. Eight good months with a child in the mortuary, I could not sleep.
“Whenever I closed my eyes, I would think of him, and tell myself that if my son could see what was happening, he would say we hated him to the core, yet we did not have the power to bury him on time.”
The deceased’s father Mr Collen Moyo reiterated that they did not refuse to bury their son but the hospital held on to the body.
Our son had some periodical epileptic fits attacks which did not last long and used to attack him after three months intervals.
On Saturday September 25, he endured the attacks and we agreed to take him for medical attention at UBH, where upon arrival he fully recovered but was admitted for monitoring.
They said he would be discharged the following day but because it was a Sunday, they could not discharge him, it’s their policy.
“That Sunday, two of his sisters visited him and they stood by the word that they found him well, playing draughts with others waiting for his discharge,” he said.
“On Monday September 27, we did not visit him in the morning because we planned to go once to take him home since he was being discharged.
The two sisters went to the hospital in the afternoon to bring their brother home only to get news that he had passed on.
They were confused, and asked his doctor for explanations.
They were only told that he fell while visiting the toilet.”
Mr Moyo said they were then shown the body on Tuesday.
“The statement that they were investigating the case made us believe that they were holding on to the body so we could not go on with the burial until cleared by them.”
He said they wrote to the hospital in February demanding compensation and only buried the deceased two weeks ago after police intervened on the matter.
However, in an interview, Bulawayo PMD, Dr Maphios Siamuchembu said the family refused to take the body when they were told about the death and was demanding compensation.
“ They said they were not happy that they were not told when he fell, they were not told at the time he died.
I am in possession of a letter in which they were demanding US$50 000 compensation before they could agree to take the body,” he said.
Dr Siamuchembu said it was clear right from the beginning that health workers, specifically the nurses, who had attended to him from the time of admission to the time of his death, had done something wrong.
He said the hospital management sought advice from the Ministry of Health and Child Care on how to handle the issue and the ministry gave the hospital permission to, among other things, assist with funeral expenses.
The family was also being assisted with food periodically before the burial.
He said the hospital will not compensate the family.
“The hospital is a government entity.
It has no resources, and no mandate to stand alone as a legal entity that can be made to pay compensation.
Asking the hospital to pay compensation is asking the government to pay compensation, and that is beyond my scope as PMD to comment.
What the hospital has done is to apply internal disciplinary measures to the wrong doing health workers involved. What these measures are, I think, is not for public consumption,” said Dr Siamuchembu.-Chronicle