WOMAN TO WOMAN: ‘No laxity when it comes to people’s lives, we must get it right all the time’

Saturday November 18 2017

Juliana Otieno is the chief executive at

Juliana Otieno is the chief executive at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. She is also a paediatrician. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Juliana Otieno is the chief executive at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital. She is also a paediatrician

Tell us about yourself

I am a mother of many children, and doctor from a humble background. I love God who is our caretaker.


What do you value most as a doctor?

Time… Time is of essence, it always and literally is a matter of life and death, if I am to attend to a patient or administrative matters, I have to be there on time.


Most of your workers have a feeling that you are strict. Is this the case?

I am not strict. I just get the job done. We are dealing with people’s lives and we have to get it right all the time. I just have to let you know I am not the enemy but I do not expect laxity in anything.


What lesson did you learn from your parents?

As a first born in family of eight, I learnt about being responsible for a large number of people at an early age as I grew up in Muhoroni.

There was milking before school, fetching water and cooking and of course, being asked where you were as an elder sister when your junior siblings were making mistakes.


What challenges did you have while growing up?

When I passed my national primary examinations, My father could not raise the Sh4,000 needed for me to join Limuru Girls. The community gathered, fundraised and I went to school. That is why I grew up with the resolution that, for matters of  education and health, I will give back to the community.


Tell us more about your family...

I am a mother of three biological children and so many others who I never gave birth to. I have raised my children the very same way I was raised up.


How do you juggle between family and work considering your busy schedule?

I took an oath to protect a life and help women and children. Any time when called upon I always respond. It is what I aspired to do. I also create time for my family.


How do you get it right being that you are heading a busy referral hospital?

I tell every healthcare worker to do the best they can with what is available regardless of the circumstances.

I know there is pressure and we are understaffed but do not tell me you yelled at a patient because you were under pressure. If something is not possible, do not try to make it possible, it is better we say the truth.


How did you climb the ladder to where you are now?

Staying at a point and learning has made me who I am today. I joined the hospital as an intern and I have stayed in the very same hospital. I know each and every corner of the hospital and should there be something wrong and I get a report, I would actually walk to the place and solve the problem.

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital or Russia as it is commonly known is my place and home that’s why we strive so much to bring change and make it better.


What have you improved at the hospital under your care as the head?

The hospital has improved tremendously especially on matters of hygiene and even the maternity wards and pediatrician wards. I strive to ensure that expevctant women and infants are given the best. Children get free treatment with the comfort for both mother and child guaranteed.


What do you enjoy doing most at your free time?

Listening to Benga music and farming.


Challenges at the hospital?

This is a referral hospital and not a palace and we can’t go without challenges but whatever challenges that are there are being worked on, we are understaffed but that will not prevent us from carrying our jobs as medical officers. We are going to soldier on and give our best.


What keeps you going?

Seeing a patient who came in a wheelchair leaving the hospital while walking and talking. Women delivering safely. Children getting the necessary vaccination and growing past their fifth birthdays. This makes me a happy mother and a doctor.


Which food do you like?

Fish and Ugali.


What advice can you give to upcoming women in the industry?

This profession is about passion. When you have the passion you will enjoy what you are doing and not just for money. It is an enjoyable professional that I would recommend anytime.


Given a chance what is it that you would change in the industry?

I love children, I will choose this as my profession anytime.


Where do you see the hospital in the next five years?

It will be better that what it is now.