NO SALARY

Meru suspends health worker in Covid-19 preparation disagreement

Clinical officers secretary general Baiyena was fighting for the welfare of workers and pushing for payment of delayed salaries

In Summary

• County clinical officer’s secretary general Moses Baiyenia was suspended on Friday after holding a press conference at a hotel in Meru town on March 10, 2020.

•  He highlighted the challenges medical officers go through and the unpreparedness of the county government in response to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A Meru medical worker has been suspended for championing for colleague’s welfare and demanding they be paid delayed salaries.

County clinical officer’s secretary general Moses Baiyenia was suspended on Friday after holding a press conference at a hotel in Meru town on March 10, 2020.

He highlighted the challenges medical officers go through and the unpreparedness of the county government in response to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Health chief officer Kanana Kimonye through a suspension letter seen by the Star told Baiyenia he will not receive his salary pending the determination of his case.

“It has been reported that on March 10, 2020 you held audience with a local TV station where you made allegations against state officers. It has been determined that this was an offense amounting to gross misconduct and insubordination, warranting dismissal. You are suspended from exercising your office duties from date of this letter pending finalisation of your case. You will not be entitled to any salary,” the letter signed by Kimonye and copied to Finance executive and Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu reads.

Meru county health workers have been on a go-slow, protesting unmet arrears and lack of training on handling coronavirus cases.

Baiyenia said public health officers will proceed with the go-slow for lack of protective gear to handle potential coronavirus cases such as face masks, sanitisers, and no developed protocol to separate patients suffering from other diseases.

Health worker's leaders from all cadres convened at the Meru ASK Showground on Saturday and resolved to "die with" their colleague (Baiyena)  until he is reinstated and all their demands met.

“Patients have to queue for receipts, blood pressure tests, temperatures and are to be attended by clinicians without prior screening,” Baiyenia had said.

Meru nurses secretary general Nesbit Mugendi said employees have gone without salaries for at least 45 days.

“Health officers are getting messages from banks to pay loans, staffers are unmotivated. Let the county sort out these issues and we will resume our duties. We are waiting for the necessary items for the fight against coronavirus. If availed, we will take charge but we are taking precautions,” Mugendi said.

Baiyenia said the isolation ward for suspected coronavirus cases was set in an area with huge traffic of patients in the hospital because it is in the middle of an emergency wing and outpatient wing.

“It will stigmatise patients and staff. Salaries for February have not been paid so we cannot pay any medical bills in case of diseases, God forbid. We are worried for ourselves. The statutory deductions have also not remitted for the last one year, so staff are struggling with loans, shares and pensions funds,” he said

Meru has set aside Sh20 million for coronavirus fight as Governor Kiraitu Murungi banned public gatherings in recreational parks and cancelled market businesses on Fridays, Wednesdays and Mondays.

On Monday, Health executive Misheck Mutuma maintained the county was prepared for coronavirus.

“Meru has no cases of coronavirus but we urge all traders handling farm produce to ensure they comply with sanitary requirements and high standards of hygiene in their respective business environments to ensure effective prevention of the virus in our county,' Mutuma said.

He said the county had put up a 20-bed capacity isolation facility for suspected cases of coronavirus. Another 15 beds were to be added as part of the preparations, he said.