Private hospitals are increasingly getting overwhelmed by a rising number of patients as the doctor's strike continues to bite.
Although nurses and clinical officers were on duty in many public hospitals, a spot check by The Standard revealed that they were referring all critical and surgical cases to private hospitals.
"Our work is to receive them at the casualty and out-patient bays and quickly refer them to private hospitals. Some of the patients are turned away at the gate because there is no reason to allow them in when it's clear they would require intervention by doctors," said a senior nurse at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.
Major private hospitals in the county, such as the Aga Khan and Avenue continue to receive large numbers of patients seeking treatment, amidst reports that some families were privately hiring doctors to treat their relatives at home.
In Siaya County, the referral hospital has been making at least 10 emergency referrals to private hospitals daily since the doctors' strike began. However, the hospital's Medical Superintendent, Geoffrey Mwai, said it was able to handle a number of emergency cases.
The medical superintendent said although the doctors' strike had affected operations at the hospital, they still managed to handle certain emergencies while referring others to private facilities.
"The doctors are few but at least when they are there they handle all the cases, we only refer emergency cases, the rest we can handle as a facility,' he said.
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The medical superintendent regretted that many patients were not visiting the hospital at all, fearing they would not receive any services.
"We are not seeing patients visiting the facilities for treatment, which is very sad. They should at least come so that we can advise them on the way forward instead of staying at home in pain," he said.
The county has put in place measures to ensure safe deliveries for expectant mothers.
According to County Executive Member of Health Olango Onudi (CEC), the county has clinical officers who are trained in reproductive health and authorised to carry out maternity procedures.
But this has not entirely prevented maternal deaths. Two weeks ago, a 20-year-old expectant woman died at the Yala sub-county hospital during a caesarean delivery conducted by a clinical officer.
Frida Aoko from Kambajo, Bondo had been referred to Yala Sub-county hospital from Bondo Sub-county hospital.
According to her family, health officers at Bondo said they were unable to perform a caesarean delivery due to machine failure.
Sources at Yala hospital told The Standard the clinical officer performed the operation because there were no doctors to do it.
Other facilities have been playing it safe with expectant mothers.
For example, for the past seven weeks, not a single caesarean delivery has been conducted at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital.