× Digital News Videos Opinion Special Reports Lifestyle Central Coast Eastern Nairobi North Eastern Nyanza Rift Valley Western Business News Stocks Financial Standard Africa Asia America Europe Weird News Editorial Commentary Letters Crazy World Features Entertainment Money & Careers Health & Science Sci & Tech Home & Away Generation Next Cartoon Education Pointblank Environment Travel & Destination Columns Kipkoech Tanui uReport Kiambu Murang'a Nyandarua Kirinyaga Nyeri Baringo Bomet Elgeyo Kajiado Kericho Laikipia Nakuru Nandi Narok Samburu Trans Nzoia Turkana Mombasa Kwale Kilifi Tanariver Taita Taveta Kakamega Vihiga Bungoma Busia Siaya Kisumu Homabay Migori Kisii Nyamira Nairobi Uasin Gishu West Pokot Sunday Magazine The Hague Trial Kenya @ 50 Education and Training Health and Environment Insurance and Financial Security Housing Current Affairs Humour Makau Mutua David Oginde Clay Muganda Comand Your Morning Mohamed Wehliye Wednesday Life Alexander Chagema Arts & Culture Kamotho Waiganjo Barrack Muluka Xn Iraki Urban Rights - By Steve Ouma Branding Voice KCB Fredrick Ogola Sunday Magazine Wanja Kavengi Njoki Kaigai David Oginde Ken Opalo Daisy Maritim Houghton Irungu Hustle News Group Stages Round of 16 Quarter Finals Semi Finals Finals Third Place play-offs Opinion Dr Pesa Podcasts Round Table Sepetuko Eve Woman Ramadhan Special Fact Check Correction Explainers The Standard Insider Blog E-Paper Lifestyle & Entertainment Nairobian Entertainment Eve Woman Travelog TV Stations KTN Home KTN News BTV KTN Farmers TV Radio Stations Radio Maisha Spice FM Vybez Radio Enterprise VAS E-Learning Digger Classified The Standard Group Corporate Contact Us Rate Card Vacancies DCX O.M Portal Corporate Email RMS

Debt piles on the misery of patients

By Mercy Kahenda | September 10th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Patients at the Gilgil Sub-County Hospital whose management will be taken over by the Ministry of Health after the Cabinet approved the request by Nakuru County Government. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

It is a warm sunny morning in Nakuru and an 82-year-old man dressed in a black jacket, and a blue and white striped trouser is basking in the sun at Gilgil Sub-county hospital.

For the past 40 years, John* has known no other home after he was transferred from Mathari mental hospital in Nairobi to Gilgil sub-county hospital in Nakuru County.

The facility’s medical superintendent David Kuria says John is the oldest patient at the Gilgil Sub-County Mental Unit. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a condition that causes one to experience erratic moods, energy and activity levels.

He takes anti-psychotic drugs to calm his nerves.

However, John’s medical records for the last four decades cannot be traced. He is among 40 abandoned patients with mental illness who were transferred to the facility from the Mathari Hospital in Nairobi.

“John doesn’t know where he came from, neither does he know his relatives. He is our ‘pensionable’ patient,” says Dr Kuria.

The Gilgil General and Psychiatric Hospital is the oldest and biggest psychiatric unit in Rift Valley, and second-largest in the country after Mathari Hospital.

Records show that the facility was a British military camp in the colonial era. It was established in 1965, as an extension of Mathari Hospital, to ease congestion.

Psychiatric inpatients

By 1983, the hospital had 430 psychiatric inpatients, admitted from across the country, and hence further transfers from Nairobi were stopped.

In July 1995, the psychiatric unit was merged with Gilgil Rural Health Demonstration Center to constitute the Gilgil Psychiatric and General Hospital, now Gilgil Sub-county Hospital.

At the facility, health workers make their way to the outpatient block as others do ward rounds. But all is not well inside secluded old wards tucked in a corner. Patients wake up at 8am, shower, take breakfast and go for counseling. Those who have recovered take other patients through therapy.

Due to their condition, the patients do not know their names. The hospital’s management was forced to give them names for easy identification.

Kuria explains that identification also enables abandoned elderly patients to be enrolled under the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), a decision made after consultation with the Registrar of Persons.

“Medication is key in management of mental illness,” he tells The Standard.

According to a report by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights on mental health, an estimated 25 per cent of outpatients and up to 40 per cent of in-patients in health facilities suffer from some form of mental condition.

Despite the facility offering critical support for mental health, lack of funds has hampered services, with a bill of Sh12 million accrued 13 years ago yet to be cleared.

“We have a pending bill of Sh12 million, accumulated from 2007, from the purchase of drugs and food supply,” says Kuria.

There are days when the facility relies on well-wishers for food.

Whereas there is a high demand for mental services, the hospital does not have Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) machines, used for reviewing the mental state of a person.

Those in need of medical examination are referred to the Nakuru Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, 40km away.

The Gilgil facility has at least six nurses and one psychiatric doctor, attending to 66 inpatients.

Gilgil Ward MCA Jane Ngugi, who is also a board member of the facility, says inadequate funding is a major challenge.

Nakuru County Health executive Kariuki Gichuki says the national government resolved to have the Ministry of Health take over the psychiatric unit.

Mental Health Mathari Hospital Gilgil sub-county hospital
Share this story

Read More