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Nurses want more medics hired to help out in busy renal unit

By Benard Lusigi | April 19th 2021
Doreen Onyango, a nephrology nurse, at the Kakamega General Hospital's Renal Unit. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Health workers at the Kakamega County General Hospital say they are overwhelmed by the large number of patients suffering from kidney failure, and who are seeking dialysis services at the facility.

The renal unit at the hospital, which also serves residents in the neighbouring Busia, Bungoma and Vihiga counties, has been receiving at least 15 patients every day.

"Many patients who are here used to get their services outside this county. But since the inception of this unit, many opt to come here and that is why we have these high numbers,” said Doreen Onyango, a nephrology nurse.

According to the nurses, the renal unit has been understaffed since it was established in 2015. The influx of new patients means they have to work extra shifts with little rest.

Ms Onyango said the unit requires a doctor, more nurses, two biomedical engineers, and a nutritionist.

"The problem lies at the nurses’ level. For the eight machines, we need 16 nephrology nurses, yet we have only been able to train eight. They have to work from Monday to Saturday without rest. This makes us strain a lot, and work in shifts for more hours."

The nurse said many of the patients had been diagnosed with other underlying diseases. "Most patients with kidney complications suffer from hypertension, diabetes, malaria, HIV/Aids and even cancer."

She added: "We have seen this disease attacking people from the age of 25 years and above. It is important for people to go for medical check-ups more often to be sure of their health status."

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John Meja, 60, said he had been going for dialysis for the past 10 years and that the renal unit had saved him from making long trips to Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. 

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