The biggest referral hospital in western Kenya is suffering the ignominy of forcing patients to sleep on cold hard floors due to lack of beds.
The shame of Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) was laid bare on social media after a member of the public published photos of patients lying on the floor as commentators demanded that the county take responsibility.
Patients at the hospital told Nation that most of them had been discharged but had been detained due to uncleared bills. A patient, Julius Akumu, 38, revealed that they had been forced to sleep on the floor to make way for new patients after they were discharged. He said they had been denied permission to leave even though they had gotten better.
Mr Akumu had a renal infection and had been operated on a week ago. He however could not leave the facility because he has not cleared his bill.
During the day, they are made to sleep on the balcony and at night they are placed on the corridors within the hospital where they lie on the smaller mattresses.
“We sleep in the corridors because there are few beds and newly admitted patients are given the first priority,” said Mr Julius Akumu. The beds that are available are fully occupied by patients.
A few meters from Mr Akumu is 41-year-old George Odhiambo who had also undergone operation on his stomach on Wednesday.
He pointed out that they are forced to persevere with the situation because they cannot raise the outstanding bill which he said stood at Sh11,396 as at September 13.
The amount keeps on increasing as the patient spend more days in hospital. Mr Odhiambo said they were around 10 patients but at least six had managed to raise the amount and left.
COMPLETE BED REST
“I am supposed to be on complete bed rest, but the frequent movement from one place to another is really affecting me,” he said, calling on the county government to help in offsetting the bills to ease his pain. The hospital management admitted that there were challenges in sleeping arrangements owing to lack of beds.
The hospital's chief executive officer, Dr Peter Okoth, said that, for instance, Male Ward 2 has 40 beds but by Sunday morning there were 59 patients.
“We have high demand for surgical services with many requiring them because of injuries and non-communicable diseases. We had an excess of over 19 patients but the ones who were on the floor were those on discharge,” said Dr Okoth. He denied claims that they were detaining patients for not clearing bills.