Harare Hospital Striking Nurses Ignore Woman Experiencing Labor Pains, Baby Dies, Mother Walks From Car With Stillborn Hanging Between Her Legs

A Harare women recently lost her baby in a suspected case of negligence after Harare Central Hospital nurses ignored her call for emergency labour attention, HealthTimes can exclusively reveal.

By Michael Gwarisa

In a harrowing narration to this publication, the lady, Valerie Mashiri (37) said the nurses insisted her case was not an emergency and maintained she should instead get a scan and stop being a cry baby.

On June 17, 2020, it was week 21 of my pregnancy, I woke up with slight cramps and since it was cold, I decided to stay in bed. The only time I would get up was when I needed to use the toilet. Late in the afternoon I noticed a discharge, it was like mucus tinted with a brownish colour.

“In such a situation, I did not want to panic but I became a bit concerned so I spoke to my husband and began researching on it. In the Evening around 10:00 pm, that is when I started feeling sharp pains and since I was not at my house, it took a while for my husband to get to my parent’s house and we decided to go to Harare Hospital,” said Valerie.

Upon arrival at the Hospital around 1:00 am, she says they found a lady security guard sleeping and she became a bit hostile since she had been woken up in cold weather.

“As I got to the nurses’ station, the nurse who attended me asked me what the problem was. I explained to her about the cramps and discharge. She then said to me “Ndozvamafambira Husiku huno,” Is this why you come all this way for in the thick of the night?

“I said to her I was concerned about the discharge I was having. There was a doctor there who was doing her rounds and she told me she could not examine me without a scan. Now at this time with what I was feeling and the emotional stress that I was having I felt crushed, I felt that after what I had explained, they should have at least observed me or just at least check if everything was ok. I was in pain and could hardly walk or stand but even under such hostility, I had to be brave.”

Despite the pain and the fact that she was struggling to walk, the Harare Central Hospital just like many public health institutions have a policy which does not permit anyone including the husband to accompany their pregnant wives into labour so Valerie had to find her way around looking for a scan only to be told to go get checked a Pagomo Radiology by Southerton Post office a few yards from the hospital.

“When we asked for a scan, a certain nurse just came out and told us that no scans were being done at the hospital and told us to go to Pagomo Radiology. When we got there, the amount charged was beyond our reach and by now it was around past two in the morning. I was cold tired and in pain and decided to come back early in the morning.

“Around 5:00 am I was woken up by this intense pain, since there was no readily accessible car, we had to wait for help. At that time it became clear to me that I could be in labour. I did not want to believe it. That’s when a gush of water mixed with blood just came out and I began crying,” said Valerie.

She was then rushed to the Hospital by a neighbour and went straight to the maternity ward and told them what had happened and they still insisted on a scan even after one of the nurses had suggested Valerie be attended to since she her waters had been broken.

“The others could have none of it, they kept on insisting that I should come back with a scan. I had to walk out and we went to the radiology centre at Harare Hospital which is on the first floor. I got there and my husband went in and explained to them and the response he got was, there is nowhere it is written that this is an emergency.

“I asked myself, what kind of emergency do they want when my waters have broken. There was no other option but to rush to Pagomo Radiology after borrowing some money. On getting there, the radiologist was not in and he had to be called and now I could hardly sit. He came almost half an hour later and after attending to me, he told the baby was not breathing.”

According to results from the scan at Pagomo, the baby's skull had collapsed with overriding bones and there was severely reduced liquor volume for gestation age. 

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 regulations, her husband was not allowed inside the room and she had to receive this devastating news on her own. Her greatest horror unfolded when she went to clean herself up in the rest room.

“I went to clean myself up, as I was using the toilet, I felt something come out and when I looked, I saw a leg and a part of the Umbilical code. For me that is when I just broke down and cried in that building because I knew that it was all over now, I had lost my child.

“The staff were helpful enough to give me bedding as I got in the car back to Harare Hospital. We got to the maternity wing and I had part of my baby hanging down and I could not walk. My husband went inside. He said he told them that I couldn’t walk and they continued doing their own work ignoring me. One doctor said bring her in and my husband told them I could not walk and there was no wheelchair to assist me.

“They told my husband to take me to room 20. When my husband went to room 20 he says the nurses were just there seated and they literally all ignored him so he rushed to the outpatient department to look for someone who could help him but none of the people there were willing to help,” she said.

Valerie says at this point no one wanted to take the blame for what had happened hence the back and forth scenario.

“We went to the Emergency Room (ER) and still I had to walk out of the car with a baby hanging down my legs, there was just a lot of chaos. I could hear nurses shouting and summoning each other out of all the work the stations. At that time, I did not know what was going on, I could not sit, I could not stand, and all I could do was just hold on to a bench that was nearby opposite the ER.

“I was in that position for close to an hour before the doctor that my husband had looked for came to help. A stretcher came where I had to get on but as it was wheeled close to me, I could even smell urine on it and the blankets were dirty and I refused to use it.”

She says most of the stretchers had blood or urine on them and they appeared like they had not been cleaned in a while. They later found a stretcher to put her on even though it had no bedding and she had to use a small blanket that she had as bedding and part of the bedding she had been given at Pagomo radiology.

“The doctor who attended to me later told me that my husband had pleaded and begged him to assist her. He then later helped to deliver and cleaned me up. He even took time to counsel us. At that time, I felt it was all over even thought I experienced emotional turmoil.

“The doctor wrote an Ultra Sound Scan request to check if I fully expelled all from the uterus. On my way upstairs, that’s also when I discovered that there was actually a strike by healthcare workers. When I got inside, I was booked for the 25th of June. I tried to plead with them but I was told there were not working,” said Valerie.

She says she is grateful that at least there was residue or presence of any foreign body in her womd after the heartbreaking experiance.

Contacted for comment, Harare Central Hospital Public Relations Manager, Mrs Juliet Chikurunhe said she would revert as soon as she  gets the relevant information to the case.

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One Thought to “Harare Hospital Striking Nurses Ignore Woman Experiencing Labor Pains, Baby Dies, Mother Walks From Car With Stillborn Hanging Between Her Legs”

  1. Paidamoyo Mutsvairo

    This is not good Nurses shld not go strike, they are essential services providers.

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