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Honour our nurses ... they pay the ultimate price for us to live

Monday July 13 2020
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Clinical nurse Moses Gitonga Ringera, who died of Covid-19 at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital on on June 22, 2020. PHOTO | POOL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BERNADINE MUTANU

On June 18, Moses Gitonga Ringera, the clinical nurse who succumbed to Covid-19 recently, reported to work at the University of Nairobi Clinic as usual.

But he started complaining of chest pains and shortness of breath hours later.

“When he was examined, his blood sugar was very high despite him not having a history of diabetes,” said his wife, Lucyline Gitonga, during an interview with the Nation.

Because of the Covid-19 symptoms, he was rushed to the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) and was put in isolation. At the unit, his condition was confirmed.

Gitonga was the second case of a Covid-19 death of a healthcare professional in the country. He would have celebrated his 50th birthday on August 21, his wife told the Nation.

On admission, the 49-year-old nurse never woke up; he died at the intensive care unit, having fought the virus for a week.

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“I was called from the hospital and informed that he had died on June 24 at 6.30am,” she said.

The medical professional was buried at his home in Kunene, Tigania West, in Meru County on June 30.

LONG ABSENCE

Mrs Gitonga, a nurse working in Meru, said the last time she saw him was in March, just before curfew.

“He had come home and because of the restrictions, he could not come again. When he got ill, we just spoke over the phone to inform me of his condition,” she said.

“We are still mourning. We are still seeing him. We feel as if he is still with us but we are beginning to realise that we are alone. It is deeply painful.”

The nurse said her husband contracted the virus in the line of duty as he sacrificed his life for Kenyans.

“Healthcare workers should be protected. They should be given personal protective equipment and their families should be compensated in case of death so that their children can continue with their lives,” she said.

“There should be an enabling environment... healthcare workers should have insurance.”

OTHER DEATHS

Before Gitonga, Clifford Manyara Mburia, a 58-year-old anaesthetist who was working at Kitengela Medical Centre, succumbed to the virus.

He passed on at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) on June 15 after contracting the virus in the line of duty and was buried on June 22 in Kithiru, Weru in Tharaka Nithi County.

Mburia had two children.

“It was discovered posthumously that he had contracted the virus,” said Alfred Obengo, President of the National Nurses Association of Kenya.

Speaking to the Nation, his daughter Shirleen Gakii, 25, said, “We could not imagine it. I have never seen him admitted to a hospital, his death was untimely.”

He developed a cough and died only a day after being admitted at KNH, she said.

“I was called by his friend who informed me of his demise. I later learnt that he passed on because he had Covid-19,” Gakii said.

The first-year student at Chuka University said life has been hard without both of their parents.

She and her brother, a second-year KCA University student, are afraid they may not be able to complete their studies for lack of finances.

The latest health worker to pay the ultimate price was Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, who died on Friday at Aga Khan Hospital.

Dr Lugaliki was buried on Monday in Bungoma County.

Currently, some 361 healthcare workers have tested positive for the disease, which has already killed 197 Kenyans.

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