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REVEALED: Dirty tricks governors used to ‘meet’ 300-bed isolation order

Details have emerged of how 42 counties misled Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and the Health Ministry into believing and announcing that they were prepared to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

A special team appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to inspect hospitals in the counties in the build-up to Monday’s crisis meeting found that only five counties, and not 26 as announced by Mr Oparanya, had set up at least 300 beds for Covid-19 patients.

RENTED BEDS

They are Mombasa, Murang’a, Kiambu, Machakos and Kakamega.

The Nation can reveal the dirty tricks used by the governors in the scandal that shows how some leaders are taking the pandemic casually, even as infections soar in their regions.

In the North Rift, some counties rented beds from learning institutions to meet the 300-bed capacity for isolation centres.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union North Rift branch officials said the 324 beds Uasin Gishu claimed to have included double deckers from high schools and colleges.

While the county led by Governor Jackson Mandago featured on the CoG list, inspectors from the Health ministry said it had not met the President’s target.

In Nyandarua, 180 unused beds were collected from small health facilities and taken to gazetted isolation centres to help meet the goal, according to members of the County Assembly.

Rurii Ward MCA Mburu Githinji, who led the Ward Reps in criticising the Francis Kimemia administration, said the executive should not have moved the beds but instead upgraded the health facilities.

However, Mr Kimemia said the beds had not been used for more than five years, and that a survey and consultations were done with the individual health facilities’ management boards.

DOUBLE-DECKERS

In Nakuru, the county government included beds it said were in hospitals that are yet to be completed, earning accolades from Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, who visited the county recently.

The minister had lauded the county publicly and in a press statement, saying, it had surpassed the capacity and was getting even more beds.

But the inspection task force discovered that the county, led by Governor Lee Kinyanjui, had only 184 isolation beds.

The beds are distributed as follows: Gilgil (two), Naivasha (10), Nakuru Level Five Hospital (80), Bondeni (48) and Langalanga (32).

Investigations by the Nation revealed that the county, in its communication to Mr Kagwe, included non-existent beds at the Bondeni Maternity, Molo and Gilgil sub-county hospitals, which are incomplete.

“The three current isolation centres are overwhelmed because of the surge in the number of patients in the county,” a source said, and cited two isolation wards at the Nakuru Level Five hospital with an 80-bed capacity.

In Migori, sources told the Nation, the beds Governor Okoth Obado claimed to have are yet to be delivered, months after they were said to have been procured.

“Apart from some 150 beds at the Macalder isolation centre, there are no other beds,” a health official privy to the procurement said.

In Vihiga County, double-decker beds used by students at Keveye Youth Polytechnic were quickly taken to an isolation centre, and the county declared that it had met the minimum 300-bed requirement.

SURPASSED TARGETS

But medics dismissed the arrangement, with Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) saying double-decker beds cannot be used in hospitals. Branch Chairman Zaddock Miheso said using such beds goes against social distancing.

In Kisii, although the county bosses said they had surpassed the 300-bed target by 10, sources said they had 250 beds.

In Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti says they have more than 200 beds while his Health Executive Wario Galma says they have only 85.

In Embu, health workers told the Nation that some of the 340 beds Governor Martin Wambora says are ready do not meet the required standards.

In Mombasa, the much touted county isolation centre at the Technical University of Mombasa will be closed as the institution prepares to resume learning next month.

The County intends to set up a 200 bed capacity field Covid-19 centre at Port Reitz Hospital in Changamwe as an alternative location for the Covid-19 patients.

In Lamu, the County is still grappling with a poor healthcare system with a non-existent plan on how to combat Covid-19.

And in Tana River, Governor Dhadho Godhana said the county does not have enough space to fit 300 beds.