Josphat Kinyua @josphatkinyua
Patients from six counties in the Mt Kenya region who need ICU services at Nyeri County Referral Hospital have to seek services elsewhere because of a shortage of specialist personnel.
Although the facility is well-equipped, it is underutilised because of lack of specialists such as nurses.
Investigations by People Daily established that, despite the facility having six beds that can accomodate six patients, only two beds are in use because it has only two nurses.
Sources at the largest referral hospital in the region disclosed that, doctors at the facility refer patients who need ICU care to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi. This defeats the government’s resolve to decongest KNH by equipping county hospitals.
Peter Mwangi, whose father was scheduled to be admitted at the facility a month ago, said they were taken aback when they were informed that they had to transfer him to KNH.
“My father suffered stroke and drifted into a coma. We were advised to transfer him to KNH because the ICU was full. We had to hire an ambulance, incurring more cost,’’ said Mwangi.
The hospital receives patients from as far as Marsabit county owing to its central location.
Carol Mwangi, a member of the Health Committee of the Nyeri County Assembly says the facility is in dire need of specialists.
“Our ICU is one of the best equipped but shortage of specialists is its undoing. A patient at the ICU needs round-the-clock care so if only two nurses are available, only two patients are admissible and that’s why majority are referred to KNH,” said Mwangi.
Mwangi, who worked at the hospital before she was nominated to the Assembly, says the problem at the ICU started when many of specialists left for greener pastures and were not replaced due to transfer of health services to counties.
She says the only cure for the problem is for the health docket to be given more budgetary allocation to enable the hospital to hire more specialists.
When the county budget was read, health was the greatest loser with insignificant money allocated to it. This problem will persist for a long time until some one see the sense in giving the department appropriate funds,’’ she said.
Efforts to get a comment from the director in charge of Health Dr Nelson Mureu were not successful as his did not answer our calls.