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Lack of expertise to operate life saving machines affects services

Health & Science - By Mercy Kahenda | November 3rd 2019 at 11:00:00 GMT +0300
Clinical officers at Baringo County Hospital during a past strike over salaries in Kabarnet town on October 14, 2019. [File, Standard]

Equipment under the Managed Equipment Service (MES) are lying idle in health facilities within the South Rift region due to lack of personnel to operate them.

Baringo Health CEC Mary Panga said though the radiology department is operational, there are no specialised doctors to interpret images.

“Reading images is not an issue because we consult with our counterparts in Nairobi and treat our patients on time,” she explained.

Asked why the county has not hired specialists to bridge the gap, she said they facing budget constraints.

“Staffing is low, but we are working together with doctors from MRTH and private facilities, at the radiology department. The medics interpret tests made on patients,” she said.

Modern equipment installed at Kabarnet Hospital include the CT scan, dialysis machine at the renal unit, x-ray and imaging and life support machines at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Previously Kabarnet referred most patients to the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, for specialised care at Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Installed

In Kericho, radiology, renal unit, ICU and modern laboratory equipment were installed at the county hospital after renovation.

Though radiology department is operational, there are no doctors to read images forcing the facility refer the same to consultant doctors, an issue that slows services, according to KNUN representative Laban Kiyego.

The county started construction ofthe installation room for the CT scan last week. Currently, patients seeking the service are referred to Kapkatet Hospital – a private facility - with severe cases seeking services at Malik Clinic in Nakuru, MTRH or PGH in Nakuru.

“There are CT scan machines, but they are locked as we wait for construction of installation room,” said the medic.

Despite the ICU being operational, he says there is a shortage of nurses with only four available. Kiyego noted that Charges of Sh3,500 per day for ICU services were high.

“Locals do not have trust with ICU services and they claim chances of survival is only 75 per cent,” says the medic.

Though the hospital has a fully-fledged radiology department, there are no specialist doctors, and sometimes, tele-medicine is done, with some cases being taken to Sinendet private hospital.

Kiyego observed that the machines have improved medicare and urged the county to look into staffing issue, and train more medics to handle the machines.

“Specialization is vital, that is why we have machines but they are underutilized. This is major issue that requires intervention,” he said.

Avoid congestion

Bomet doctors’ representative Dr Stephen Omondi said that at Longisa, equipment CT scan, dialysis and theatre machines are fully operational. However, those installed at sub county hospitals are not operational due to lack of personnel.

“The county should employ specialised medics to avoid congestion at Longisa hospital, where most patients flock to access newly installed equipment,” said Omondi.

Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, officer in charge Dr Joseph Mburu noted that installation of medical equipment has improved service delivery.

The facility receives at least 2,000 out patient every day and 750 inpatient.

“There are no queues at the hospital because patients go for scan and are treated on time, compared to past years, when we could send them out for scan,” says Mburu.

Equipment at the facility are ICU, theatre, renal unit, Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD), X-ray and Imaging. The hospital is now able to perform several surgeries in a day.

There are five theaters including six ICU beds installed with ventilators and blood test analysers.

“Modern machines are connected to monitors that help monitor patients during palliative operations,” explained Mburu.

There are 16 dialysis machines at the hospital currently serving between 40 to 60 patients every day. The facility has hired more nurses on contract to boost service delivery.

Jessy Kimenjo, a patient with kidney ailment, told Sunday Standard he is satisfied with the care at the hospital.

“I come here twice a week due to this ailment and each time, I receive the best service from doctors and nurses,” he said.

However, he regretted that despite leasing of the machines, the national government did not employ specialists to operate them. The hospital management has been forced to hire staff on contract to ease service delivery.

The hospital lacks a radiologist to interprete X-ray images.

Mburu, a radiologist, is forced to perform administration work and assist the nine radiographers at the facility.

“Problem is not taking images, but interpreting to ensure patients receive service on time. We have contacted the county government to hire specialised radiographer doctors,” said the medic.

Samburu, Laikipia, Nyandarua, Samburu face shortage of specialists according to Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union South Rift Secretary General Davji Atellah.

Dr Atellah said the equipment have improved quality of healthcare but regretted that they are under utilised because of lack of adequate personnel.

//

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