We’ve run out of ICU beds for Covid patients, counties warn

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda addresses the press, yesterday. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Shortage of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds for Covid-19 patients worsened yesterday after it emerged that a majority of hospitals in the country are full and cannot accommodate more patients.

Besides Nairobi where all ICU beds are full, Machakos, Mombasa and Nakuru counties no longer admit new patients because all beds are occupied.

Yesterday, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) warned that there were no spaces left in ICUs across the country.

The union also revealed that ten doctors had been admitted to various hospitals after contracting Covid-19.

“This indicates the need for extra precaution by members of the public seeking healthcare services in our hospitals,” KMPDU Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda told a press conference in Nairobi.

Last Saturday, Dr Kenneth Mutuma who worked at Mbagathi Hospital, died of Covid-19 complications.

Mwachonda warned that the rising number of infections would overwhelm the healthcare system.

“The acute shortage of doctors is detrimental to health services delivery amid the pandemic,” he said.

He attributed the low uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine among healthcare workers to their non-involvement and inadequate sensitisation. 

“The Ministry of Health and county governments should scale up training and risk communication and education to tackle vaccine hesitancy through the healthcare workers representative bodies,” he stated.

So far only 40,359 frontline workers have been vaccinated against the virus.

Earlier, a doctor who identified herself as “Dr Ginger” on twitter wrote about the tribulations healthcare workers were going through as the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths surge.

“I work with COVID ICU-HDU in a hospital in Nairobi. We have a bed capacity of 24 and we are filled to capacity.

We lose patients daily and as soon as it happens we have callers in line requesting for a bed. People are getting more sick and faster now with this so-called third wave.

Within 10 days of sympotomalogy they are rushed to hospital with oxygen requirements,” the tweet reads.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua also took to social media to warn that all the county’s Level 5 hospital’s 15 ICU beds and the additional 12 HDU beds were full with Covid patients.

“Nikubaya. All our Machakos level 5 hospital’s 15 ICU beds & additional 12 HDU beds (total 27) full with severe Covid patients.

All Machakos 42-ICU/HDU beds with oxygen points are also full. People are waiting for others to die to get a bed. Mask, avoid bars, and be wise. hakuna vitanda (there are no beds),” Mutua said in a tweet.

High mortality

In Mombasa County, health workers warned that they were overwhelmed by the rising numbers of Covid-19 patients.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Mombasa branch secretary Peter Maroko said nurses in public hospitals could no longer cope with the increasing numbers of patients.

“The massive surge in coronavirus has left nurses scrambling to handle the increasing number of patients,” said Maroko.

In Nakuru, Governor Lee Kinyanjui said that the county had run out of Covid-19 beds and ICU space and called on Kenyans to exercise extra caution as the third wave had registered a high mortality rate.

He said in the past one week, his administration had lost senior officials to the pandemic including Chief Officer Public Health Samuel King’ori and Deputy Director of Political Affairs Wilfred Chebochok.

He asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to reinstate some of the tough restrictions he earlier put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Kinyanjui hinted at introducing localised movement restrictions in most affected areas.

“We may be compelled to issue localised lockdowns and movement restrictions as may be necessary to stem the spread,” he warned.

—Stories by Alvin Kariuki, Sophie Njoka and Harrison Kivisu

More on News