The important role kidneys play in our bodies cannot be overemphasised. They help in maintaining a balance of water and minerals, such as sodium and potassium, among other functions.
However, there are times kidneys are unable to perform their functions and when this happens, medical experts have to come in to sustain the patient.
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show about four million Kenyans have chronic kidney diseases. Out of these, 10,000 have End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
The head of renal unit at Outspan Hospital in Nyeri County, Sarah Makau, says there are many signs and symptoms that different patients with renal problems manifest.
“The first thing we do when a patient complains of passing little or no urine, fatigue, having a swollen face in the morning, lack of appetite, nausea and vomiting, is to carry out various tests,” Ms Makau says.
While screening for renal failure, the laboratory technician extracts a sample of the patient’s blood for the Urea Electrolytes and Creatinine (UEC) test.
In case results show the level of UECs is higher than normal, the patient is put on hemodialysis or medical management.
The method used in the management of a patients with renal failure depends on the level of damage their kidneys have suffered.
Renal failure has two stages - acute kidney failure, which has an abrupt onset and is potentially reversible by medical management, and there is also chronic kidney failure, which progresses slowly over at least three months and can lead to permanent kidney failure.
The Outspan Hospital prides itself in the treatment of kidney failure patients. The hospital is providing quality care to patients thanks to installation of modern equipment at the hospital’s renal unit. At the same time, the unit has qualified personnel.
The equipment Outspan Hospital has installed in its renal unit include active hemodialysis machines. The bed capacity at the hospital is currently dictated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The hospital has initiated outpatient programmes where each patient has four hours of hemodialysis.
“Newly registered renal patients stay in the hospital for monitoring before they are moved to the outpatient programme,” Makau says.
Following accreditation of Outspan Hospital by National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), a patient pays Sh9,500 per session. Those without any insurance cover are charged Sh9,000.
“We also offer free meals to outpatients when they come in for dialysis. We serve hot beverages and lunch and all meals are given on the advice of a nutritionist,” says Makau.
The renal unit works on a 24-hour basis to ensure patients receive services on demand.
Other than managing renal patients, the Outspan Hospital also offers employment to members of the surrounding community. The renal unit has two bio-medical technicians who maintain and service the machines, and medical nurses who take care of patients.
A consultant doctor is always on call to attend to any complications and other needs the patients may have. In addition, the unit offers training opportunities for medical interns attached to the hospital and students from our sister institution, Outspan Medical College.
The management of the hospital has also incorporated other departments to offer support services. These include psychology, nutrition and physiotherapy departments.
The hospital offers health education to patients once a month at no extra cost. The management has made deliberate efforts to incorporate compassion, empathy and personalised services to patients.
With many successful recoveries, the Outspan Hospital has implemented an outreach programme where teams are sent out to sensitise the community on the need for healthy living. The hospital also conducts annual check-ups for early detection of any emerging medical conditions.
Makau advised people to eat healthy and make physical activity part of their daily routines. All these are targeted at avoiding kidney failure and other health complications.
There are plans by the renal unit to form a support group for renal patients, which will help to promote emotional and psychological healing.