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Babies dying, patients poorly fed amid negligence at Naivasha Level IV Hospital

 Newborns sharing incubators at Naivasha Level IV Hospital. Staff at the hospital are struggling with drugs and staff shortage, and spoilt equipment. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Members of the county assembly Health committee came face to face with what they described as the pathetic state of Naivasha Level IV Hospital following a prolonged public outcry over poor services.

They were left dump-founded when a nurse revealed they were losing at least 20 babies due to lack of incubators and medication.

During a tour of the facility, the Ward Reps learned that up to four premature babies were sharing one incubator after the others broke down. Workers admitted that the equipment broke down months ago while at the pharmacy, the last dispatch was received in November last year.

The MCAs were further told that the hospital was struggling to feed inpatients.

Besides lack of basic medical equipment, the facility faces acute shortage of staff while suppliers have pulled out due to non-payment for services rendered.

Some critical departments like maternity, laboratory and theatres were being manned by one nurse despite the rising number of patients seeking services.

The management admitted that they faced an acute challenge of funding, which threatened to ground services.

The Superintendent in Charge Bernard Warui said the facility owes suppliers more than Sh300 million. He said patients were getting a basic meal of maize and beans as they could not afford anything else.

"We are facing many challenges due to the financial crisis, but we are keen to improve services and we hope that this committee will come to our assistance," said Dr Warui.

And on Tuesday, the assembly's Health committee members grilled the County Public Service Board members led by the chairman, Charles Mwai, Public Health and Medical Service Chief Officers Alice Manyange and Mwangi Murima, and two directors from the department.

This follows public outcry over poor services at the Naivasha Hospital and the main county facility; Nakuru Referral and Teaching Hospital. They appeared a day after the MCAs fact-finding mission at the two hospitals.

"We received complaints from nurses who felt aggrieved after they were released. We also wanted to know why there is negligence and mismanagement in hospitals," said the committee chairman, Njuguna Mwaura.

The board is said to have promised to streamline the department. "We were told that the board identified gaps in employment, but also identified that there was a lack of qualification with some of the practitioners in hospitals," said Mwaura.

 Nakuru Health committee members led by chairman Njuguna Mwaura (C) tour Naivasha Level IV Hospital following public outcry over poor services. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

The committee called for better terms for medical practitioners hired on six-month contracts to give them incentives.

He said medicine shortage should not be an issue, given a budget of Sh1.4 billion has been set aside. "If they implement what they have told us, there will be no issue henceforth, in hospitals," he said.

The board chairman said some nurses, clinical officers and pharmacists had no contracts. "We needed to hire 538 medical practitioners on a contract of six months, but subject to renewals depending on their performances," said Mwai.

"Those released can apply and be rehired again. We are planning to do a major recruitment in the next few years."

He said not all workers can be hired as permanent and pensionable terms since the county has no enough resources, noting there are plans to open 20 more facilities in the county.

Naivasha East MCA Stanley Karanja, a member of the committee, said the board members should work to improve public hospitals or they be impeached.

He said medical practitioners trained in Nakuru were being hired by other counties that give better incentives like promotions, leaves and longer contracts.

He questioned the Sh300 million debt accrued in two years.

Lakeview MCA Mwangi Muraya identified the hospital's laboratory as the most affected due to lack of regents and personnel.

"The laboratory is the heart of this hospital but unfortunately it's not operational and this has led to a lot of suffering for patients," he said.

Hells Gate MCA Virginia Wamaitha called for urgent action to save patients.

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