HEALTH FACILITY AMID THE VIRUS

Virus changes face of health facilities in Kenya

In Summary

• Isolation beds and ICU beds were not a priority for many facilities and patients would often be referred elsewhere.

•Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital were among the few equipped public hospitals.

The Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital.
Image: FILE

Public health facilities in the country have been transformed since coronavirus struck the nation on March 13, 2020.

Prior to the virus, some of the health facilities were in a deplorable condition and little had been done to change the situation.

 

Isolation beds and ICU beds were not a priority for many facilities and patients would often be referred elsewhere.

 
 

Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital were among the few equipped public hospitals.

Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital with 300-bed capacity facility along the Thika Superhighway had to be more equipped to boost the holding capacity.

In June, while making his eighth address to the nation regarding the virus, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed all the 47 counties to have at least 300 beds i as cases surge.

The national government disbursed Sh5 billion in conditional grants to all 47 counties for preparation.

The purpose of directing county governments to up their preparedness was due to the increasing cases of the virus in counties that had earlier witnessed few cases.

Despite calls to furnish their health facilities, only five counties have shown that they are prepared to handle the situation.

Mombasa County under Governor Hassan Joho, Machakos, Kiambu, Murang’a and Kakamega are the only prepared counties.

 

Mombasa had set up a 19-bed Rahamtula ward at the Coast General Hospital before the virus had been reported in the county.

The ward was fully equipped with ventilators among other kits to combat coronavirus with a trained 24 doctors and health practitioners on how to handle patients with coronavirus or those with symptoms.

Machakos county also was in the lead by converting Machakos Stadium into a Covid-19 isolation facility.

Machakos County converted Machakos Stadium to isolation center.
Machakos County converted Machakos Stadium to isolation center.
Image: COURTESY

Machakos governor Alfred Mutua said that the stadium would be used to isolate those who will be found positive and treat them for mild and non-critical conditions of the virus.

While launching the facility, Mutua said that the stadium would also house temporary mass screening and treatment areas.

"We have taken this step to free our Machakos Level 5 Hospital from being a treatment and isolation centre because hospitals are notorious for the spreading of bacteria and viruses to patients who are suffering from other conditions," Mutua said.

Machakos is among the counties surrounding the capital Nairobi which has a high number of infections.

Nairobi has recorded more than 11,000 cases since March 13 while Mombasa is the second with almost 2,000 cases.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has admitted that health facilities in Nairobi are full of patients, hence unable to admit patients from other counties.

Kagwe also hinted that if the situation worsens, the government will consider moving patients from Nairobi hospitals to other counties.

Murang’a county also showed its preparedness by constructing a 35 ICU bed capacity within 21 days.

Nandi county completed its seven-bed ICU ward at Kapsabet County Referral Hospital at a cost of more than Sh40 million.

Governor Stephen Sang said the unit will serve residents and those living in areas between Eldoret and Kisumu.

“Completing the ICU ward is our latest move in efforts by the county to ensure we turn the hospital into a modern facility that can handle any health condition and offer world-class services,” Sang said.

Patients in need of ICU services were being referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Uasin Gishu, being the only other facility in the region with ICU wards. 

The president had pointed to some of the counties which were ill-prepared to handle the situation, Siaya and Busia being in the lead.

Some leaders and residents of Kiritiri town recently expressed fear that Kiritiri Level 3 Hospital in Mbeere South subcounty, which already has some suspected Covid-19 patients in quarantine, has no capacity to render such services.

However, Embu county’s Health chief officer Grace Muriithi denied allegations that the hospital does not have the capacity to quarantine Covid-19 patients.

Lamu, lacking an ICU has raised questions on some of the county’s preparedness to fight Covid-19 as cases rise around the country.

Some of the counties have opted to furnish secondary schools as isolation centers if the situation worsens.

In his tenth address to the nation on the pandemic, the president said that the Ministry of Health will create more isolation and quarantine centers.

Uhuru also said additional healthcare workers will be sourced from the retired ICU staff and anesthetists if need be.