Kisii County transforms 105-year-old war hospital into modern facility

The newly built Doctors Plaza at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital. [Eric Abuga, Standard]

Started in 1916 as a centre for treating wounded soldiers during World War I, Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH) has undergone a transformation over the years.

The hospital, in Kisii central business district, was first upgraded into a district hospital before the elevation into a Level 5 hospital in 2007.

And through an act of county assembly (KTRH Act of 2014), the hospital metamorphosed into a teaching and referral facility in collaboration with Kisii University.

The facility now serves as a training facility for Kenya Medical Training College students, private universities and other tertiary institutions in the region and beyond.

Its strategic location elevates it to a referral facility serving more than six million Kenyans from Migori, Homa Bay, Nyamira, Narok, Kericho and Bomet counties.

The bed capacity of the hospital has increased from 350 beds in 2012 to around 800 in 2020. The increase in bed capacity was occasioned by the construction of a 450-bed capacity male ward.

Six years ago, the hospital could not handle emergencies. But since the inception of devolution, the hospital has undergone major changes.

The green and well-maintained lawns and walkways reflect the transformation the hospital has undergone. The old 12-body morgue was replaced with a 100-body modern parlour. Lecture and practical rooms for Kisii University medical school students are on the second and third floors. Kisii Governor James Ongwae said that due to the high number of patients the hospital is serving, he hopes that sustained engagement with the national government and donors will see the county get more resources to deliver healthcare services.

“I desire to see our people get the best health care services closer home and cheaply. We have procured and installed another 64-slice Computerised Tomography (CT-scan) at the KTRH. We have also installed a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine,” he said.

Notably, the facility has a Renal Unit, an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependence Unit (HDU).

“The construction of an anatomy lab, a hostel block for doctors, installation of various diagnostic machines, among other investments will not only improve services for our people but also help Kisii University establish a medical school,” Ongwae said. He added: “Laboratories in various county hospitals now have bio-medical equipment. Aa big portion of the funds in the counties are allocated to health. We are almost crippling other services.

“I have always involved various partners and "stakeholders in pursuing proper and quality healthcare for our people.”

From a mere six medical specialists in 2013, the number has risen to 29 and more than 14 others deployed to sub-county hospitals. Other cadres at the facility include; 19 medical officers, 36 clinical officers and 288 nurses.

The construction of a 350-bed capacity fully-fledged Mother and Child hospital will see the division of the main facility into two hospitals.

The new facility will have gynaecology, obstetrics and paediatrics wards all separated from the KTRH. A new theatre will also be part of the new facility.

Currently, there are more than 20 deliveries at the hospital, with more than half of the mothers undergoing caesarean section.

The CS procedures, according to Dr Enock Ondari, the hospital’s chief executive, have always led to congestion at the main theatre. “The opening of the new facility will be a major reprieve to our mothers in the region. This is a milestone.”

Benson Ongeri, the chair Health Committee in the Kisii County Assembly, said the county has continued to bolster its health services. “The county’s focus has been equipping community health workers.”