Referral cases, surging numbers overwhelm top county hospital

Members of the Nakuru County Assembly Health Committee during tour of the Naivasha Sub County Hospital. The MCA’s expressed concern over the acute shortage of staff at the hospital which was recently elevated to a Level V facility. [File, Standard]
It was the most horrifying moment for the family of Caroline Nyambura after she passed on while undergoing treatment at Naivasha Sub-county Hospital.

Her body was left in the ward for more than ten hours.

Elizabeth Mwithiga, the guardian of the 11-year-old girl said doctors claimed that the nurse who was to wheel the body to the morgue was held up in a meeting.

Ms Mwithaga took Wanja to the hospital on April 22. She was diagnosed with meningitis. She died on May 5 at around 1am while undergoing treatment.

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After receiving information about the death, she went to the hospital at 11am to view the body, but was shocked to find it in the ward.

“The girl passed on at 1am, and I was surprised her body was left on the bed for more than ten hours. A number of children screamed, while some left the ward since they were traumatised after seeing the body,” Mwithaga said.

After intervention of government agencies, medics and the management, the body was wheeled to the hospital morgue at around 12.15pm.

Delay in wheeling

The hospital in charge Dr Angeline Ithondeka admitted that there was delay in wheeling away the body to the morgue, following what he termed as miscommunication by hospital staff. 

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“It is true that there was a delay to wheel the body to the morgue, but it did not take 10 hours, the matter was solved,” she said.

Ithodeka added: “On several occasions, we have held a meeting with the hospital management to help improve services and we are optimistic, something shall be done.”

Another patient, Boniface Waithaka claimed he was turned away from the facility despite having an open wound after being involved in an accident by staff who allegedly said they do not work in the afternoon, forcing him to seek services at Lake View nursing.

“I had an open wound that required dressing but I was shocked after a nurse turned me away on grounds that the service is not offered in the afternoon,” Mr Waithaka said.

And, the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital is congested forcing some patients to sleep on the floor. 

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Kipkorir Rutto, 42, claimed that he was forced to sleep on the floor in the ward on January 13, after he failed to secure a bed, which in any case is shared by patients.

Dr Joseph Mburu, the officer in charge of the hospital said congestion was caused by high number of referral of patients seeking specialised care, especially orthopedic services.

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) also receives high number of patients referred from other facilities and counties. The hospital has six ICU beds installed with ventilators and blood test analysers.

At least 2,000 patients are attended to daily at the hospital. Out of these 750 are inpatient.

South Rift Doctors Representative Dr Davji Atellah said there are no doctors to review patients at other facilities, an issue that should be addressed to provide quality health care.

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“Referrals are many because we do not have doctors to review patients in dispensaries, health centres and sub-county hospitals, and unfortunately, at the facility, they are forced to wait for long before being served,” Atellah said.

The shortage has also affected health facilities in Baringo where the Kabarnet County hospital is manned by nine doctors, about 90 nurses and 14 clinical officers.

The issue is yet to be addressed by county leadership, that has instead deployed 200 interns in health facilities across the county, according to health executive Mary Panga.

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