By Moses Walubiri and Violet Nabatanzi
Mulago hospital administration has began evicting nurses from a hostel it claims is a transitional accommodation facility despite the latter petitioning parliament over their plight.
The hospital’s top echelon aver that the 19 nurses are simply crying wolf, accusing them of flouting the rules pertaining to accommodation in the hostel – including sub-renting their rooms to outsiders.
Heavily armed police officers milled around the hostel as hospital guards meticulously ferried out personal items of Florence Awati - the nurse, the hospital administration believes is instigating others to defy an order to vacate the premises.
The rest of the nurses occupying the multistoried complex will be evicted on Thursday as the hospital administration seeks to find accommodation for 259 nurses that were recently recruited by the Health Service Commission.
“When we want these nurses to offer emergency services, we only find strangers whom they have sub-rented their rooms,” Mulago Hospital Executive Director, Dr. Byarugaba Baterana, told New Vision.
Byarugaba revealed that contrary to nurses’ complaints of getting ‘ambushed’, the hospital administration engaged them on numerous occasions over the matter, with some given alternative accommodation which they have rejected.
Earlier on Tuesday, aggrieved nurses had petitioned parliament to pull the plug on their imminent eviction as the impasse between Mulago and some of its ‘foot soldiers’ threatened to play out in the legislature.
The hostel at the heart of the standoff – Queen Elizabeth Tall Tower - is a derelict building erected at the cusp of independence as a transitional accommodation for newly recruited young nurses.
Three months ago, the hospital administration issued nurses a three months ultimatum to vacate the hostel, which to some, has been home for over 10 years.
In a petition handed to the Health Committee chairperson, Dr. Kenneth Omona, teary nurses complained of maltreatment at the hands of their bosses.
“Many of the senior nurses and administrators that want us out of the hostels are themselves staying in hospital houses. Our one-roomed homes are not bigger than their plushy bathrooms. What have we done to deserve this?” Akiror Lydia, an enrolled nurse, said with a tinge of bitterness, before bursting into tears.
Akiror parted curtains on their standoff with the hospital administration, noting that although the latter has genuine concerns, they (nurses) have been pushed between a rock and a hard place.
“The administration claims that we have turned the hostel into our empire – starting families and housing our relatives. But the money we earn cannot afford us accommodation even in slums like Katanga,” Akiror railed.
With over 1000 nurses on its payroll, Mulago perennially grapples with the problem of insufficient accommodation for its staff.
However, the ongoing construction of 100 housing units might help mitigate the crisis.
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