By MARION NDUNG’U
Pungent smell and rude nurses mistreating mothers in labour are the things easily associated with a maternity wing of any public hospital in the country.
Poor service delivery and poor management are some of the hallmarks of these hospitals.
But Nyeri Provincial General Hospital is a shining example of excellence in service delivery.
Its maternity unit won the best public facility in the country in the recent competition organised by Johnson & Johnson Ltd in collaboration with the National Nurses Association Council of Kenya and the ministry of Health.
After achieving the fete, employs sang and danced as the trophy and prize money were delivered to the institution last week.
Not so long ago, the hospital was just like any other public hospital where mothers in labour were traumatised by the nurses’ mistreatment.
Today, when you walk into the facility, you find the area clean and nurses ready to attend to any patient requiring their immediate attention.
One nurse was talking to a man and his wife; reassuring them that all would be fine. The nurse so cheered up the expectant mother that she laughed despite her pain.
It is this attitude towards work, seeing patients as clients requiring personal attention, that saw the hospital beat several others in service delivery to clinch the coveted inaugural award.
The nursing officer in charge of the hospital, Ann Wachira, says the award has boosted the morale of her staff. The recognition, says Wachira, is invaluable not only to the maternity unit but also to the entire hospital.
“Here, we work as a team; and that is why we won.”
As the matron in charge of the maternity, Merioth Mugambi, checked on the newborns as well as exchanging a few words with the new mothers, another nurse cleaned and arranged surgical items at one corner of the ward.
The labour ward has curtains for every bed, giving mothers all the privacy they need after delivery. The curtains have images whose themes befit the atmosphere for newborns.
The winning mood in the place was infectious. In fact, everyone was so excited that even the newborn babies were not howling for attention.
The trophy, now securely within the facility, is a constant reminder to the staff that it is no mean achievement being the country’s best.
The prize comes with Sh50,000 cash as well as a trophy and a certificate. Merioth says what is most important is the recognition which has greatly motivated her staff; not the money.
“For years, we have just been working, not knowing how to measure our performance against others. Now we know we are good,” says Wachira.
The unit is, however, not without challenges. For example, to effectively give excellent service, it needs 60 nurses but there are only 39. To ensure work goes on without much ado, the nurses work overtime.
They lack enough equipment and the beds are fewer than the number of patients admitted. The antenatal section has 18 beds but at any one time, there are more than 40 mothers admitted. Often, the patients share beds.
But this does not discourage the nurses; they make do with what is available and try to make their clients as comfortable as possible.
Despite these challenges, they went ahead to win the prize. But the award presents a new challenge to them — how to cling to position one.