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Nairobi St Mary's Hospital under pressure as medics strike goes on

By Nanjinia Wamuswa | Published Tue, January 10th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 9th 2017 at 22:55 GMT +3
Dr Wycliffe Kimani Ngaruiya of St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Lang’ata attends to a newborn baby. [PHOTO: NANJINIA WAMUSWA/STANDARD]

St Mary's Mission Hospital in Lang'ata, Nairobi, is overstretched as a result of the doctors' strike. 

Patients are being attended to in the corridors and winding queues of out-patients waiting for treatment can also be seen.

Agnes Atieno from Woodley in Kibera said there was no space in any ward when she arrived to deliver.

"After l gave birth, l was allocated a bed in the corridors of the hospital," Ms Atieno told The Standard during a visit to the hospital.

She said: "The corridors too were already full and my bed had to be squeezed between others. But I thank God l was assisted and delivered well."

Atieno says this was not the situation when she gave birth to her second-born three years ago at the same facility. "We were around ten. I remember seeing many empty beds."

"Our wards are full because patients who go to Kenyatta National Hospital, Pumwani and Mama Lucy hospital are now coming here. Our wards were designed to accommodate 280 patients only. Yet today, we have over 450 patients," says Dr Bryann Nyangeri, the Managing Director.


Dr Nyangeri said since the strike began, they have been receiving patients from other counties such as Kajiado, Kiambu, Nakuru and Machakos.

"On average, we used to see at least 1,000 patients per day. That number has now doubled," he said.

Despite the pressure, the hospital has not sent away any patients and has worked hard to attend to as many of them as possible. 

Dr Nyangeri says they anticipated influx of patients when the strike was announced. "It involved recruiting additional staff, requesting staff not to go on both December holidays and leave, and we purchased extra commodities/medical supplies," he explained.

Dr Wycliffe Kimani Ngaruiya, a paediatrician and deputy medical director, says there are many pre-mature babies who are at high risk.

"Mothers arrive carrying babies on their own, without ambulances and this is risky," he said, adding they have reserved additional incubators to take care of babies.

Dr Kimani says the paediatric unit with a capacity of 20-30 babies now has up to 60. "At one point after the number tripled, we resorted to Kangaroo mother care - skin-to-skin mother care - for babies weighing over 1.5kg. We have been putting up to four babies weighing less than 1.5kg in an incubator," he said.