An accident victim spent 18 hours in an ambulance because Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi claimed it did not have an ICU bed.
In an outrageous display of callous disregard for a patient’s welfare, private hospitals would not admit him without a cash payment of Sh200,000.
Mr Alex Madaga, 37, was bleeding in his brain and every second was crucial for his survival.
He was knocked down by a speeding car on Waiyaki Way on Monday at about 9pm and taken to Kikuyu Mission Hospital, where doctors referred him to Kenyatta for specialised treatment.
But he was not admitted until the evening of the following day, Tuesday. And even then, it took the forceful protests of his cousin, a lawyer, for Kenyatta to agree to admit the critically ill man.
Mr Madaga, who is now in a coma at KNH, was in the ambulance for so long that the driver had to make a dash back to Kikuyu Mission Hospital to replenish the oxygen.
Mr Madaga’s wife, Ms Jessica Moraa, 25, said the hospital’s authorities kept telling her that they could not admit her husband of one year because there was neither a bed at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nor a ventilator to help his breathing.
Paramedics from the ambulance service provider who were attending to Mr Madaga said he had internal head bleeding, was breathless and his condition was deteriorating but they had no choice “but (to) treat him from the ambulance to save his life even as his neck began swelling due to internal bleeding”.
The paramedics requested anonymity because they are not allowed to speak to the press.
Ms Moraa said: “We arrived in KNH on Monday at around 11pm but had to wait in the ambulance because there was no bed. We had to go back to Kikuyu Hospital at around 5am because the oxygen in the ambulance had run out.
“We got there and were transferred to another ambulance and came back to KNH at around 11am where we stayed until around 5.30pm when my husband was admitted.
NOT ENOUGH ICU BEDS
“It took the complaints from my husband’s cousin for him to be admitted, then a bed was available and he was admitted. The doctors keep telling me he is too critical, I do not know what to do”.
KNH's deputy director for clinical services, Dr Simeon Monda, said the hospital could not admit Mr Madaga because there was nowhere to put him.
“All the 21 beds in the ICU were occupied and up until an hour before we admitted him, no one had been discharged,” he said.
However, Dr Monda said, one patient was moved to the general ward and Mr Madaga was moved to the ICU.
Dr Monda said more than 2,500 patients are admitted to the hospital daily and that at least 125 ICU beds are required though the hospital has only 21.
Ms Moraa reported the accident at Kabete Police Station on Wednesday.