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Ongoing doctors' strike forces hospital to turn patients away

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MERCY KAHENDA | Tue,Jan 24 2017 00:00:00 EAT
By MERCY KAHENDA | Tue,Jan 24 2017 00:00:00 EAT

 Jane Rono leaves the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru after failing to find a doctor to attend to her son whose legs were fractured when he was hit by a lorry. [PHOTO: MOSES KIPSANG/STANDARD]

Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital has been turned into an outpatient service provider following the protracted doctors' strike.

The Level Five facility, which provides referral services to patients from various counties including Bomet, Kericho, Baringo, Samburu, Nyandarua and Laikipia, has been hard hit by the strike.

Wards at the hospital have been closed and a number of nurses deployed to the casualty department.

"There is nothing much going on at the hospital because of the doctors' strike. Nurses with pending leave days have also been asked to take time off," said a nurse who requested anonymity.

A spot check by The Standard revealed patients in dire need of attention but who were being turned away.

Jane Rono could not hold back tears as she narrated the pain her 10-year-old son was experiencing after failing to get treatment at the facility.

Ms Rono from Njoro said she took Denis Kipkurui to the hospital but there were no doctors on duty.

The boy has fractured legs, forcing his mother to carry him on her back.

Kipkurui was hit by a lorry in Neisuit while heading back home on November 7, 2016, and was rushed to the hospital where he was examined and discharged.

He was later taken to Tenwek Mission Hospital for further observation and treatment but he was turned away for lack of money. His mother was required to pay Sh66,000 but she only had Sh10,000, which she had received from well-wishers.

"I have visited various hospitals but found no help. I am now dressing my son at home although the wounds on his legs are worsening," she said.

Rono is also worried that her son might perform poorly in school because he is not able to attend classes.

Esther Andeyo was equally stranded when she failed to find a specialist to examine her two-year-old son who has eye problems.

"My son is not able to see clearly and his eyes are aching. I have been waiting for a doctor in vain," said Ms Andeyo.

The story was the same for Jesse Kuria, another patient. He has a fractured leg.

"The wound on my leg is very painful. I have visited several clinics for check-ups but it has not healed," said Mr Kuria.

According to a nurse at the hospital's casualty department, the number of patients visiting the hospital has reduced to an average of 400 daily compared to at least 1,000 before the strike began on December 5 last year.


She said patients who required close monitoring were asked to come for regular check-ups done by clinical officers and nurses.

"Patients with surgical cases are the most affected by the strike because there are no doctors to monitor them closely," she said.

Kidney disease patients in critical condition are being sent to nephrologists in private hospitals.

"Nurses in the renal unit are administering normal dialysis but patients with severe problems are being sent to see specialists in private hospitals," said another nurse.

At Gilgil Sub-County Hospital, which also handles psychiatric cases, clinical officers and nurses are now in charge.

Psychiatric patients are currently being attended to by psychiatric nurses.

A nurse at the facility said new psychiatric cases were not being received because there were no doctors to prescribe or conduct tests.

"The hospital is only handling normal diseases and services that can be provided by nurses and clinical officers," said the nurse.

And at Molo Hospital, only outpatient services and a few deliveries done by nurses trained in midwifery are available.

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