Anger of doctor who couldn’t raise ICU bill
From impromptu fundraisers to desperate appeals for blood, colleagues and friends of the late Dr Stephen Mogusu, who succumbed to Covid-19 on Monday, yesterday recounted how they battled to save his life.
Fellow doctors tell how they were forced to mobilise funds through Whatsapp groups to meet Dr Mogusu’s medical bills as he battled the deadly virus at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.
Another group, comprising mainly family members and close friends was separately calling for blood donations.
Yesterday, the nation was united in grief at the passing on of the 28-year-old, with the medical fraternity threatening to down tools if their grievances are not met.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentist Union (KMPDU), led by the acting Secretary General, Dr Chibanzi Mwachonda, yesterday said their patience is running out and the union has resolved that doctors would not embark on what he termed as a “suicide mission”.
“If going to work is going to kill us, then it is only fair that we be out of work as from December 21.
The government has 13 days to address our demands. Court orders will not stop us from contracting Covid-19 or even dying from the disease.
We have been pushed to a corner and we will stay there,” uttered a furious Mwachonda, who spoke from KMPDU offices in Nairobi.
Mwachonda demanded the Ministry of Health take full responsibility for all outstanding medical bills and compensation to Dr Mogusu’s family.
Reports have indicated that the bills soared well over Sh500,000 and the family had to even seek help to secure the fallen medic’s admission to Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“I am sad… bleeding inside because of the state of health workers. Personally, I have tried all attempts to get help for the deceased.
I have been in touch with the wife since Wednesday and they had to fundraise for a Sh200,000 deposit to the ICU and there is still a bill to be paid. We are not even sure who or how to clear it,” said Mwachonda.
Similarly, he took a swipe at the political leadership for what he termed as insensitive remarks against doctors working against all odds to save the lives of Kenyans.
This was in apparent reference to ODM leader Raila Odinga remarks that doctors need to be more understanding since the country is in a crisis at the moment.
Similarly, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong said that health workers should shelve their grievances until after Building Bridgs Initiative (BBI).
“KMPDU cautions the political leadership from insensitive remarks against frontline workers.
All political actors should be concerned about the plight of healthcare workers and show leadership at this time of pandemic,” said Mwachonda.
“Doctors may not be special to some of you, political leaders, because you can fly abroad to seek medical help but doctors matter to ordinary Kenyans,” he added.
His remarks were echoed by KMPDU National Chairman, Oroko Obegi, who termed it as unfortunate that it has become the responsibility of family of doctors to look for hospitals to go to and foot all the medical expenses.
“People are saying that everyone is dying from Covid-19 but doctors are the frontline soldiers in all this.
If a soldier in war is hurt, they are airlifted and medical needs taken care of by the Government… this nonsense of trying to dismiss issues raised by health workers is insensitive and unfortunate,” uttered Oroko.
Also present at the press conference were two doctors who mourned Mogusu’s death.
One was Mogusu’s classmate at the University of Nairobi, Dr Claire Wangare, who described him as an emulation of service beyond self and recounted how he asked them to save themselves even on his deathbed. “It is sad that the last words were ‘save yourselves’.
Dr Mogusu our classmate, our brother diligently fought for us even at the university.
We have lost him as he was fighting for frontline workers and left behind a wife and a child grieving at this moment,” said Wangare.
Another doctor, Asiyo Odiambo, who completed his internship but is still unemployed, decried the status of affairs in hospitals.
“It is a sad day that this country can lose a 28-year old vibrant doctor while serving citizens who need the services, that someone can die offering a service they cannot afford.
My colleague, senior, friend could not afford services he was offering to people,” said Odhiambo.
There was an outpouring of messages of goodwill on social media, with his friends describing Mogusu as a selfless person.
On Sunday, one of his friends posted on Mogusu’s facebook page, asking for blood appeal.