The management of Kisumu’s main referral hospital has admitted that the intensive care unit strained due to underfunding.
Responding to allegations that patients were being made to buy supplies – from expensive medicines to tissue paper – Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital Chief Executive Officer Peter Okoth explained that the unit was operating on a slim budget.
Although only four of the unit’s 13 beds are in use, Mr Okoth said the high expenses involved in operating the critical care unit and a shortage of personnel had caused “occasional hitches.”
“The ICU is a heavy investment. Our main challenge is that reimbursement from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is too low to sustain the facility and we are occasionally faced with financial constraints, which we usually go out of our way to try and meet,” he said.
The NHIF reimbursements, he said, were Sh2,000 a day. “With the kind of expenses we incur, anything below Sh10,000 a day is too low. Sometimes we seek the support of partners in the health field to meet the costs and this is not very reliable,” he said.
There were reports that relatives of a patient admitted to the ICU were handed a list of expensive drugs and supplies, including diapers and toilet paper.
The Kisumu Medical and Education Trust chief executive officer, Monica Oguttu, again raised the issue during the county’s mass NHIF registration campaign in Kombewa last week.
She said if the universal health coverage, which was being piloted in Kisumu, was to succeed, then investment must be made to ensure the whole referral system works.
The county’s chief officer for health, Dickens Onyango, promised that the county government would equip the unit.