Blessings Chidakwa in Kadoma
Authorities at Chegutu District Hospital are under fire for allegedly neglecting the institution’s mortuary which has been dysfunctional for more than six months.
Patients and their relatives allege that hospital staff were leaving dead bodies in the wards until their collection by funeral homes.
Investigations also revealed that no proper attention is given to the bodies when one is certified dead by the doctors.
Last Friday, the body of a road traffic accident victim was left lying in a pool of blood for hours after doctors had certified that the victim dead.
Staff members interviewed last week said the situation was unbearable for patients.
“All the people dying here are covered with blankets and they remain in the wards with patients until their next of kin claim the body. The situation becomes more complex when some bodies spend two to three days unclaimed,” the nurse said on conditions of anonymity.
“There was an accident along the Chegutu-Chinhoyi highway with one of the victims dying on admission and the body spent the whole day in a pool of blood before being transferred to a room we are using as a makeshift mortuary.”
Mrs Tatenda Marigo, whose niece is a patient at the institution, said her niece was failing to recover after going through the trauma of having to share a ward with a corpse.
“It is hard for my niece to recover while sleeping next to a corpse. The experience is quite harrowing and there is need for intervention from the authorities,” she said.
Former Chegutu mayor Mr Leo Gwanzura accused hospital authorities of neglecting the mortuary.
“People are being forced to use private parlours which are more expensive.
“We cannot have a public institution which is critical going for more than six months without mortuary.”
He said under normal circumstances a district referral hospital should have a mortuary.
In an interview, Chegutu District medical director Dr Tonderai Nhende said the problems started when one of the two fridges at the hospital mortuary developed a fault.
“The mortuary’s capacity is 16 bodies but one of the fridges is down and so it now only accommodates eight bodies. We have six unclaimed bodies awaiting paupers’ burial leaving space for two bodies.
“The unclaimed bodies have been there for almost three years,” he said.
D Nhende said hospital authorities had since approached a local funeral home to share its mortuary on a public-private-partnership.