19 May 2013

Zimbabwe: Patient Disappears From Hospital

Chinhoyi — A patient admitted at Chinhoyi hospital, Melody Masuwa has mysteriously disappeared from the health institution with authorities and family members unaware of her whereabouts.

Chinhoyi hospital superintendent Collet Mawire confirmed the disappearance of Masuwa from the female ward almost a month ago under unclear circumstances.

"It is the first case of a disappearance, although the hospital experienced many cases of patients absconding after failing to raise hospital bills. We are investigating how the patient disappeared," he said.

Mawire said the hospital was concerned about the case as Masuwa had not been discharged from the hospital and had not reported home.

But Masuwa's relatives said they suspected that some of the hospital staff members knew what happened to her.

According to Masuwa's elder sister Portia, she was admitted at Chinhoyi hospital on April 19 complaining of chest and side pains.

Since she was nursing a five-month-old baby, Masuwa's mother would bring the child for breast feeding during visiting hours.

On the night Masuwa disappeared, Portia alleged that a nurse on duty surprisingly refused permission for her sister to breast feed.

She said the family received a phone call around 10pm on April 22 asking them if Masuwa was at home.

"We told the caller who identified herself as nurse Chiweshe that Melody was still at the hospital," said Portia.

She said a family member went to the hospital and looked everywhere for her to no avail.

The following day they reported the case to Chemagamba police station who were allegedly reluctant to act, arguing that three days had to pass before a person could be reported missing.

Masuwa's husband, Gift Simende said there was negligence on the part of the hospital, as no proper hand-over, take-over of patients was done. He said if there was no negligence, then some of the nursing staff were involved in the disappearance of his wife.

The case took another twist on Friday when police arrested Final Masuwa, Melody's father. It could not be established why he was arrested. Police refused to comment.

Mawire said after self-examination, the hospital would provide uniforms to patients to minimise cases of absconding. He said the hospital would also restrict two visitors per patient during visiting hours.

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