Naivasha couple demands answers over baby's death in hospital

Beth Njoroge and Henry Njoroge

Beth Njoroge and Henry Njoroge holding their eight-month-old baby Lucy Wanjiku (now deceased).

Photo credit: Courtesy

Last Friday at 1pm, baby Lucy Wanjiku developed chest complications and was rushed by her parents to South Lake Medical Centre in Kiragita, Naivasha, for a check-up.

The facility referred the eight-month-old baby to Naivasha Sub-County Hospital for further treatment as it had no oxygen.

The parents, Beth Njoroge, 22, and Henry Njoroge, 27, accompanied by the baby's uncle Sam Maina, travelled from Kiragita in search of treatment for their firstborn child and arrived at the facility at 4pm.

According to Maina, the baby was struggling to breathe and a nurse put her on oxygen while they waited to be admitted.

He said the baby's condition stabilised, but around 6.30pm, the nurse attending to the baby switched off the oxygen, leaving the minor with respiratory complications. The baby was taken to another room upstairs where they met a male nurse.

He said the room they were taken to had no oxygen machines, and even the male nurse questioned his colleague as to why she had turned off the oxygen instead of waiting for them downstairs and making a proper handover while the baby was still on oxygen. 

“We were waiting to be admitted. She removed the baby from the oxygen machine and took us to the doctor in another room upstairs. The baby had not stabilised well. But before we could return to the room where we were, the baby passed away,” Maina told the Nation on Monday.

“For the two hours we were at the facility, the baby was okay. She was even breastfed, giving her parents hope that they would return home with the baby, but that never happened. She died in our arms.”

The baby's mother accused the facility's medical staff of negligence, saying they ignored her pleas to be attended to.
She said she begged them not to take the baby off oxygen, adding that they had been kept waiting with other patients for hours before medical staff attended to the baby, despite her case being an emergency. 

“My baby died while I watched her. When we were referred here, I knew that she would get proper medication and return home. She had at least stabilised, but the nurse removed the oxygen. I blame the hospital for this,” she said.

The family is now seeking justice for their baby's death.

Maina said so far the hospital had told the family to wait a week for the pathologist to be available to conduct a post-mortem and determine the cause of death.

"We decided to bury the baby today as we cannot wait for the pathologist to be available as per the hospital. It is tormenting for the parents," Maina said on Monday.

Dr Bernard Warui, the medical superintendent at Naivasha Sub-county Hospital, told Nation.Africa that they have launched an investigation into the matter.

"The issue is the baby passed on [when] being transferred from one oxygen point to another. We have, however, launched an investigation to establish what transpired," he said.

The incident sparked protests by angry residents, who paralysed services at the hospital on Friday following the baby's death, with demonstrators demanding justice for the parents as they clashed with hospital management.

Anti-riot police were on the scene, leading to further chaos in which several journalists were assaulted and injured amid screaming and wailing.

The incident comes barely a month after a 40-year-old man died in the same facility, leading to a clash between family members and hospital staff.

Late last year, the Nakuru County Assembly Committee on Health was informed that more than 10 newborn babies had died in a month after all the incubators in the maternity wing malfunctioned.