Services in Kiambu county hospitals are almost grounded due to the dire
need of medical supplies. Medics are unable to cope with the rising number of patients with no non-pharmaceuticals and drugs to treat them.
Patients are regularly complaining of poor services from the county hospitals, and are often being sent away to buy drugs in chemists out- side the facilities.
Mercy Ndungo, a patient, said after buying a hospital card at Sh50 at Kiambu Level 5 Hospital, she was told to pay another Sh1,065 so that she could be attended to. And still, there were no gloves, cotton wool, syringes and strappings.“The only medicine one can get is paracetamol and Panadol.,” Ndungo said.
At Thika Level 5 Hospital, patients have raised alarm over deteriorating services, with many decrying being sent to seek vital services in private facilities within the town. For instance, patients seeking X-ray services are being turned away to clinics outside the facility since it has run out of printing papers.
“We suspect some officials operating in the hospital are sending patients to their establishments within the town whose prices are higher than those in the public hospital.
The trend is taking a tall order on patients, “a patient who sought anonymity said.
A spot check by the Star at the facility also revealed there is shortage of implants for internal fixation for fractures, with most patients failing to get the implants, despite paying for the services.
“We have been billed for the implants but days are passing and we are yet to get them. We are in pain and we hope the hospital management will do something about it,” two patients with multiple leg fractures said.
Some of the patients in the wards raised concerns over lack of food, saying most of them are not being fed since there’s little food being brought to the ward.
“Some people here are relying on their relatives for food. If the relatives fail to check on them, they will not eat. It’s as if the hospital has run short of food,” Nancy Mwongeri, who had gone to visit a patient, said. Some of the medics who declined to be named for fear of reprisal said the hospital has been “operating at the mercies of God” since there were no non-pharmaceuticals to operate and the available drugs were only painkillers.
“As medics, we are worried when we attend to patients since we do not have gloves and even hand sanitizer as they are no longer supplied. Syringes are also not enough, among many other items we need to attend effectively to our patients,” the medics said.
Thika hospital also shares the same problem as suppliers have not been paid for months and have since stopped supplying vital supplies.
“This is the reason we are sending patients to get some services such as X-ray from other facilities.
It’s not that our X-ray machine is not working, it’s because we do not have printing materials since the supplier stopped supplying us due to non-payment. We are having a hard time as medics too,” a medic said.
The health workers in both hospitals said items such as gloves, infusion sets, surgical blades, strapping’s, cotton wool and gauzes roll are not available and once the medics fill the requisition forms, they are returned without an out of stock stamp.
“Patients will complain but we are incapacitated since we do not have many of items needed to operate as requisition forms are returned stamped with big letters O. S (Out of stock).”
The major and minor theatres are not operating properly, with operations in the inpatient wards also not operating well due to lack of the non-pharmaceuticals.
The medics revealed the laundry room was also not optimally operating as they are not provided with soaps to wash the linen.
Staffing is also a major problem in the hospitals where one medic attends to over 300 patients a day starting from 7am to 7pm when they change shifts, with over 1,000 patients being attended to in the hospital daily.
“We are being overworked as we do not have breaks, which is really tormenting us due to fatigue as we
are under staffed,” a medic said.
“Thika is a transit town and we, therefore, receive very many patients from other regions such as Machakos, Murang’a, Kitui, Nakuru and Kirinyaga counties.
“This is overwhelming and it’ll be prudent for the county administration to consider hiring more medical personnel for this hospital,a medic said.
Reporters went on a fact finding mission and toured the Kiambu hospital at around 8pm, where the casualty section was jam packed with patients waiting to be attended to by the three medics on duty at the time.
A medic said the number of patients is overwhelming since many referrals from public hospitals in Nairobi are brought to Kiambu where some non-pharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals are not enough compared to the number of patients.
“In Kiambu hospital there is no working CT scan, ultrasound scan machine at the moment. The only medicine the hospital has is flagyl, paracetamol and Panadol, yet when we ask for relevant drugs to be supplied we do not get them.
As medics, what are we supposed to do to help patients apart from referring them to get drugs outside the hospital from chemists?” posed a medic.At Wangige hospital, patients are being sent to private laboratories for tests.
The medics say it’s only Governor Kimani Wamatangi who can salvage the situation by releasing funds and clearing dues owed to the suppliers for resumption of health services.
“The buck stops with him [Wamatangi] because he is the one who is supposed to append his signature for the release of the funds,” the medic said.
In December last year Governor Wamatangi flagged off medical supplies from Kemsa worth Sh60 mil-lion. This, however, did not include children medicines and non-pharmaceuticals and only pain killers were supplied.
The drugs supplied did not last for one weekend. Wamatangi has, however, during his impromptu visits to Kiambu hospitals warned medics from sending patients to buy drugs outside the public facilities since he supplied them with enough drugs.
The medics are now afraid of reprisal, if they send patients to buy drugs outside the hospitals yet they don’t not have the drugs needed to treat different ailments
During a recent tour at the Thika facility, Governor Wamatangi said his administration has initiated a programme to install more equipment at the hospital in a bid to improve health services. He acknowledged the hospital has been grappling with congestion and faulty equipment.
“We will also be installing a health management system at the facility for proper management and monitoring of service delivery,” he said.
He added that the hospital has been faced with inadequate resources due to influx of patients from other regions, saying he will be seeking and lobbying for an increase on the hospital’s conditional grants from the national government.
The county assembly committee on health toured the facility led by Chairman John Njiru, vice chairman Joseph Muhinja and county secretary Martin Njogu on a fact finding mission after public outcry over several issues affecting the hospital and the Kiambu mortuary services.
The committee was informed by the county health professionals that one medic attends to over 300patients a day and there were few drugs in the storage room, despite drugs being released to the hospitals.
The committee was informed that the supplied drugs were painkillers out of over 500 types of types ofmedicines needed to be stocked to treat various types of illnesses.
The committee toured the hospital mortuary, where bodies were kept in heaps as there have been nooperational cold rooms for over a decade. They preserve bodies through embalming.
The committee said it will prepare a report to be tabled in the assembly. Queries have been made over the eligibility of the mass universal health coverage that targets over one million Kiambu residents, which is an initiative Governor Wamatangi since no public participation or legal process was done before its rollout.
Wamatangi has proposed that the assembly approves Sh100 million for the county government to
pay National Health Insurance Fund for the UHC programme to cater for the registered residents to access free medical services.
MCAs have, however, questioned the UHC mass registration, saying they have not been given a definite
answer from the relevant health docket over its eligibility.
The Story was first published by Star Newspaper(see attachment)