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Baringo County Hospital Board blames Executive for ailing hospital

The Baringo County Refrerral Hospital entrance.[Yvonne Chepkwony, Standard]

A row has erupted over the failure to repair a CT scan machine that broke down in November last year.

Baringo County Hospital Board Chairman Philip Cheptinga accused the administration of Governor Stanley Kiptis of failing to provide the funds the health department needs to carry out its key functions.

“It was unfortunate that patients are being forced to seek CT scan services in Nakuru and Uasin Gushu counties, and this is costing them a lot of money. Their burden would be eased if only the county administration can provide the funds we need to repair our machine,” said Dr Cheptinga.

He said the process that was used to procure the machine has further complicated efforts to refurbish it. 

“After our investigations on why the county Executive has been reluctant to repair the machine, we have established that the CT scan was brought through a third party who has no capacity to repair or service the machine. And because of this arrangement, it has also been hard for us to find alternative agents,” he said.

The board said the Executive failed to factor in its budget money to service the machine.

“These problems were discovered when the machine broke. The county government of Baringo cannot directly contact the company that sold the machine. Instead, it is using a private hospital. This has made it hard for it to manage the machine,” Cheptinga said.

“At one point when the hospital management was seeking funds to repair the CT scan machine, the computer that was being used to process the payment was allegedly stolen with all the information.”

At the same time, Dr Cheptinga said a Sh5 million laundry machine has been lying in a corridor at the hospital for six months. When they asked why the machine has not been installed, the county government reportedly told the hospital management that it did not have the funds.

“This is against the public procurement laws and we demand that relevant state agencies begin investigations into the use of funds meant for the health sector at the county,” he said.

Sources said the CT scan first broke down in 2018. An engineer who had put the total cost of the repairs at Sh800,000 was only paid Sh300,000, according to transaction documents.

Since then, sources revealed, the engineer has refused to touch the machine again until his payment is made in full. It also emerged that the county government lacks a contract for servicing the machine.

Sources told The Standard the problem with the machine started in 2015 when the county government declined to procure it through the national government and went ahead to buy it in a private arrangement.

“In 2020, we received a CT scan from Medical Equipment Supplies but due to wrangles within the department, it was taken back never to be returned,” the source said.

Besides the failure to service or repair the scan machine, Dr Cheptinga said there are  staff welfare issues that he has been trying to resolve for the three years without success.

“Payment for casual workers has been delayed for three months. At the same time, the workers have no tools to carry out their duties, among many other problems,” he said. The board blames this for poor services and frustration among workers, hence a failed health sector.

The Health Executive Richard Rotich admitted that the CT scan machine has not been repaired due to lack of funds.

He, however, denied that the repair of the machine was restricted to a particular company even as he admitted that the scanner was sourced in a private venture.

“We were unable to repair the CT scan because it broke down in the middle of the financial year. It requires around Sh1.2 million. We can use the vendor or go directly to the manufacturer for the repairs,” said Dr Rotich. He said the delay by the county assembly to allocate funds has hampered operations at the biggest facility in the county.

And this is not the first time the hospital has been on spot over allegations of poor services. In March last year, it was reported that seven infants had died in an incubator, but the hospital denied. In 2018, the facility was also on the spot after its Intensive Care Unit and CT scan were said to be non-functional