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Critically ill in Mombasa scramble for 8 intensive care beds

Murimi Mutiga @murimimutiga

When Mary Kanzo (not her real name), 35, was referred to Coast Provincial General Hospital (CPGH) for ICU services, her family thought that she would access treatment easily on arrival.

Little did they know it would be a nightmare to get admission. They would spend the whole day shuttling from one hospital to another in an ambulance looking for an ICU facility.

“We drove to CPGH but we were told the ICU is full, then we moved to two other private facilities but we did not have the money they demanded for admission so we drove back to CPGH and waited. We got a bed at 6pm,” said a relative of the patient.

Kanzo had been referred to CPGH from Kilifi County Hospital after she developed complications after giving birth.

Though she was later admitted, it was not until one of the patients who was in ICU passed on. Her poor family had been turned away at two private hospitals because they did not have Sh300,000 deposit for admission. This is the situation many sick people in Coast region find themselves.

With a 700-bed capacity, CPGH only has eight ICU beds. It also has a semi-ICU for maternity with eight beds. The maternity semi-ICU, which is the first of its kind in county hospitals was set up in July courtesy of Safaricom Foundation at a tune of Sh6 million.

The main ICU, which has been in operation for about 20 years, has three adult ventilators,one neonatal ventilator, one adult/neonate, four invasive monitors ventilator, four non-invasive monitors and one blood gas analyser.

The eight beds serve more than 1,000 patients who flock to the facility daily. Before admission, you pay a deposit of Sh15,000 and daily bed fee of about Sh7,000.

The hospital serves as a primary referral hospital for more than one million Mombasa city residents and another three million from the other coastal counties.

Every month, the hospital receives an estimated 70 to 200 referrals from the entire region. In most cases, the referrals require ICU services.

Three of the biggest private hospitals in Mombasa have four ICU beds each. However, they charge exorbitant fees.

One of the leading hospitals charges a Sh300,000 deposit fee on admission, Sh20,000 for oxygen every 15 minutes and daily bed fee of about Sh20,000.

Padya Memorial Hospital asks for Sh450,000 admission deposit, Sh20,000 per bed every day, this beside other charges like medication, oxygen and doctors fee.

Aga Khan Hospital which also has four beds asks for Sh300,000 admission deposit, Sh22,800 daily bed charges and Sh8,080 daily doctor fee. Oxygen fee is also calculated in minutes.

Msabweni county hospital and Malindi sub-county hospitals also have ICU facility.

However, each of the hospital has its share of problems among them being lack of an adequate number of doctors and highly trained staff with the capabilities of handling high-risk ailments more effectively.

The facility remain congested and it is rare for one to get a bed.

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