Kenya: Top Hospitals Running Out of ICU Beds as COVID-19 Cases Surge

Some of the facilities at the Mandera County Referral Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

Hospitals are running out of space in Intensive Care Units due to the Covid-19 pandemic that is spreading fast across the country. The facilities are fast getting overwhelmed with critically ill patients that need admission, forcing hospitals to set aside other rooms for the patients.

This is despite the Ministry of Health introducing home-based care last month to reduce the number of patients admitted to hospitals due to coronavirus.

The development comes as the number of Covid-19 cases continue to increase drastically, with the peak estimated to come in August. Yesterday, the country recorded 247 cases (164 males and 83 females) after testing 4,147 samples, bringing the caseload to 7,188 from cumulative samples of 180,206.

EIGHT BEDS

A source at the Aga Khan Hospital who is not authorised to speak to the media revealed that all the five Covid-19 ICU beds are full while the Nairobi Hospital, with eight beds, now only has three left.

The Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital, with a 24-bed capacity, can only admit eight patients at once because of the patient-nurse ratio.

"We have 24 Covid-19 ICU beds but we can only admit eight because of the few staff that we have. The patients in the critical unit depend on nurses for survival, so we cannot admit more," Irene Wahome, the ICU manager told the Nation. Dr Peter Michoma, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, is a distressed doctor.

Not because he does not know how to discharge his duty to save the lives of mothers and their newborn babies. No. The doctor, working at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), cannot efficiently treat some of his patients, especially those diagnosed with Covid-19 because the facility has run out of bed space to admit any more patients.

Dr Michoma wrote: "I am looking for a ward to admit a severely ill Covid-19 suspect case urgently but I can't find a free ward. The Covid maternity ward full, Covid ward for the severely ill (IDU) is full, Covid medical ward for the less symptomatic patients is full, single ward rooms with oxygen points filled with suspected/ confirmed Covid cases."

Further, the distraught doctor added that in less than 48 hours, he had filled three death notifications for three Covid victims, all young mothers in their 30s.

OXYGEN SUPPORT

While releasing the Covid-19 data on Friday, Health director-general Patrick Amoth said that 29 patients are admitted in ICU in various hospitals in the country, adding that 15 were on oxygen support while the remaining 14 were on ventilators.

As it stands, both infectious disease units at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and Mbagathi Hospital are already full to capacity.

"Yes, we are overwhelmed," said a source working at the Mbagathi IDU. The KNH administration declined to comment on the matter and referred the Saturday Nation to the Ministry of Health.

According to the ministry, matatus and digital taxis drivers could easily spread the virus to hundreds of people if containment measures are not followed. "For those Kenyans who are waiting to see Covid-19 victims for them to believe that we have a crisis, I wish them well... " said Dr Michoma.

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