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Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital in poor health

It was to be Nairobi county’s second referral hospital, to ease pressure on Kenyatta National Hospital but as it stands, Mama Lucy Kibaki has not lived up to that dream.

As you walk through the entrance, you feel the indifference from clerks at the main desk. A woman with her sick husband is rudely told that their medical card cannot be used to pay for a CT scan and X-ray and that they must produce cash.

Chinese writings

“This is all we have,” she pleads, showing the clerk the NHIF card but this falls on deaf ears.

Dejected, they head for the lawns where the man decides to take a nap under a tree as the woman, now joined by a man quietly weeps then frantically makes calls.

Another patient is handed a yellow waiting card by the clerk and takes a seat at the wooden benches. The clerks then engage in animated conversation as patients who must have now got accustomed to this attitude find a place to sit.

Opposite the benches are signs written in either English or Chinese.

“What of patients who understand neither language?” I ask myself.

I walk out and meet Belinda Anyango, from Dandora who has brought in her sick mother. They are among a dozen patients seated at the lawn, close to the hospital entrance.

“We are taking a rest before heading home,” she says.

“My mother has been attended to but X-rays couldn’t be done because she had taken lunch. Now we must come back tomorrow.”

Ms Anyango says the service at the hospital has slightly improved even though the attitude of the staff is wanting.

I approach the patient who had earlier on been turned away and strike a conversation with the wife. She says her husband, Samuel Kirutu, an employee of a flower export firm at JKIA has a medical card but the hospital only wants cash.

“We have been here since 10am trying to explain to the clerks but in vain. It has forced me to attempt reaching his company,” she says.

Incapacitated

“How much is the cost of the X-ray and CT scan?” I ask.

She hands me the consultation report. X-ray is Sh1,500 while CT scan is Sh550. I take them to the cashier who is listening to something on her earphones and pay for the two services.

She hands them a receipt and they are booked.

The line at the X-ray room is long and patients are called in one at a time. The hospital is obviously in dire need of more equipment.

It doesn’t need a keen observer to note that the hospital, which could not even handle victims of the recent train accident, needs attention.

I walk into the Medical Superintendent’s office and ask to see him. Upon identification, I am told he has guests. I inquire an hour later and I’m told he was the man that walked past me with the visitors.

“Don’t worry, he is still around so if you are patient enough, you will still see him,” the secretary says.

From its operations, how staff treat patients and their attitude, Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital represents what has become the face of the county’s healthcare system; poor service delivery.

It is heavily incapacitated in terms of equipment. It has only one X-ray machine and the waiting line outside the radiology department speaks volumes.

The hospital that took a year and half to be completed at a cost of Sh544 million through a Chinese government grant was to have a bed capacity of 112 offering specialised services for both outpatient and in-patient cases.