Nominated Nakuru MCA Elizabeth Gichuki has petitioned the Nakuru County Assembly to set aside more funds for mental health hospitals in the region.
Ms Gichuki said that the Nakuru Level Five Hospital’s mental health unit is in a pathetic state.
“The hospital is supposed to accommodate 21 patients but has more than 70 patients,” said Ms Gichuki.
At the same time, the nominated MCA revealed that the county is facing an acute shortage of mental health specialists, nurses, consultant, doctors and social workers.
Ms Gichuki said she will front a motion that seeks to ensure there are enough beds, public awareness and a county regulation on the management of mental health patients among other patients’ rights.
“The county has no sound policies on mental health and it needs to draft the laws that will govern the increasing number of patients,” said Ms Gichuki.
She said the patients at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital are wearing tattered clothes and share beds, contrary to the health regulations.
“It is extremely dangerous for two mental health patients to share beds as they could turn against each other and injure themselves besides causing damage at the hospital property,” said Ms Gichuki.
Apart from Nakuru Level Five Hospital, the other mental health facility is Gilgil Hospital, which is also in a poor state and faces staff shortage and dilapidated infrastructure.
Contacted, Nakuru Level Five Hospital Superintendent Joseph Mburu said they are planning to turn the facility into an outpatient hospital where mental health patients will be treated and those with severe problem referred to the Gilgil Hospital.
"We want to do away with admission of mental health patients at Nakuru Level Five Hospital as the county is planning to put up a centre of excellence for mental health patients at Gilgil Hospital," said Dr Mburu.
At the same time, Nakuru Health CEC Kariuki Gichuki said that the county has posted a consultant psychiatrist and a nurse at the Gilgil Hospital to deal with the increasing mental health cases in the region.
"We want as a county to move the mental unit at Nakuru Level Five to Gilgil Hospital as we want to turn it into a big centre for treatment of patients suffering from mental health problem," said Dr Gichuki.
He revealed that there are plans to turn the Gilgil Hospital into a rehabilitation centre for victims of drug abuse and related mental illnesses.
Dr Gichuki said the county is also planning for more refurbishment at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital in order to make it the preferred choice of medical care for residents.