Patients without national ID cards were Wednesday morning turned away by security guards at the Kakamega County General Teaching and Referral Hospital, fuelling controversy over a new screening policy.
The hospital’s management said the move was part of measures to deal with security lapses identified at the hospital.
But the move resulted to a huge crowd that was seeking medical attention being stranded outside the hospital.
“All patients must present their ID cards and be thoroughly screened before being allowed into the hospital,” said a security guard at the main gate.
Only emergency cases would be exempted from the security checks.
The checks slowed down activities at the hospital’s main gate as the guards frisked those entering and scrutinised their documents.
Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff were not spared and had to produce their official badges before being allowed to report for duty.
The hospital’s management has hired guards from a security firm to enforce the checks.
The guards sent away several patients who could not produce identification documents.
They said they were under firm instructions to enforce the directive.
Patients who had travelled from distant parts of the county were stranded at the main gate and their pleas to be allowed to seek treatment were rejected.
Though the county argues that the new policy is meant for the safety of patients and the hospital staff, it brought to question just how the officials had communicated it to the public.
A number of patients said they had left their homes early in the morning unaware they were required to carry their ID cards before seeking treatment at the hospital.
“We are being treated unfairly by the hospital’s management who have disregarded out pleas to be allowed to be attended to,” said a patient at the hospital’s main gate.
The hospital’s medical superintendent, Dr Victor Zimbulu, said all patients will be required to carry an ID card or any other form of legal photo identification documents before being allowed in.
He said the hospital is using the system to come up with data on the number of patients visiting it for planning purposes.
“We are trying to discourage people showing up at the hospital without any identification documents and later end up engaging in suspect activities. We have established that there are cases of individuals who sneak into wards and are served food meant for patients,” said Dr Zimbulu.