Chegutu district hospital is reeling in the eye of a storm as patients who die at the facility are being left in wards with inpatients as the institution’s mortuary has been dysfunctional for nearly half a year.
Investigations at the hospital also showed that after doctors certified deaths, bodies were not being washed. Last week while our news crew was at the institution a body of an accident victim that died upon admission was still lying in a pool of blood – a day after having been certified dead.
Chegutu district medical director, Dr Tonderai Nhende said patients started sharing wards with corpses after one of the mortuary’s two fridges developed a fault some months back with the remaining one currently being filled with bodies that are unclaimed for years now.
“The mortuary’s capacity can accommodate 16 bodies. One of the fridges is down and so it now only accommodates eight bodies.
“We have six unclaimed bodies awaiting pauper’s burial leaving space for two bodies. The unclaimed bodies have been there for more than one year, some stretching to three years.
“The mortuary can accommodate two bodies at a time and the average stay is two days meaning we can have days when the mortuary cannot take in bodies.
“To repair the fridge, companies need foreign currency which the hospital does not have.
“We have since approached Nyaradzo Funeral which offered to assist through a public private partnership,” he said.
There are beds piled and dumped outside the mortuary as seen by this publication, a claim Dr Nhende disputes.
“That stuff (piled and dumped at the mortuary) was put there because there is nowhere to put old and non-functional hospital equipment,” he said.
A nurse at the hospital who spoke to H-Metro on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said the situation was dire for patients.
“All the people dying here are just being covered with blankets and they share wards with patients until their next of kins claim the bodies. The situation becomes more complex when some bodies spend two to three days unclaimed and also especially when there is a disaster.
“A recent case occurred on Thursday (last week) where there was an accident along Chegutu-Chinhoyi highway with one of the admitted victims having died in a ward where he spent the whole day covered in pool of blood before being taken to a room used as a makeshift mortuary.”
Tatenda Marigo, a relative of a patient admitted at the institution narrated the harrowing incident experienced by his niece through sharing same ward with a corpse.
“It is hard for my niece to have any hope of survival while being admitted next to a corpse, the experience is such a harrowing one it’s high time responsible authorities act,” she said.
Former Chegutu Mayor, Leo Gwanzura said less priority was being accorded to repairing the mortuary despite that it is a district referral hospital.
“People are being forced to use private parlours which are more expensive. We can’t have a public institution which is critical going for more than six months without an operational mortuary; we start smelling a rat.
“In normal circumstances as a district referral hospital at any given time there might be an expected body. There is also a recent case of a child who died and the body was supposed to be ferried to Harare, but was kept in a ward overnight,” he said.
The situation at Chegutu hospital becomes more complex especially in times of a disaster as the nearest Government’s mortuary is at an already overwhelmed Kadoma General Hospital with a capacity to hold only nine bodies.