Thursday, August 25, 2011



By Jerry Okungu

Nairobi, Kenya

August 25, 2011

A few months ago when I was first admitted at the M P Shah Hospital in Nairobi, I wrote an article about my condition that I thought was merely to alert my friends and let them know about what I was going through.

In the article I talked about my first impressions of the hospital since I had never been there before. However, in talking about how I was treated by hospital staff, I had the hindsight of being able to compare what I saw with what I have gone through or seen at Nyanza General Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan hospitals in Kisumu and Nairobi.

Whereas I have never been admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital or Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, I have had the experience of visiting my relatives at both hospitals when they have gone to these two hospitals for treatment. Based on my observations, both hospitals are worlds apart. The Aga Khan Kisumu is a private hospital with fairly modern facilities and provides exceptional healthcare services to the people of the region. It was at the same hospital that my late parents were cared for until they passed on.

The Kenyatta National Hospital on the other hand is a public facility with limited resources all round. Nothing is not in short supply here be it the staff, food, blankets, beds or medicine. The population streaming to this hospital on a 24 hour basis is simply overwhelming making it impossible to provide adequate and reasonable services to the sick and injured patients that go there. And with a high turnover of its Chief Executives and the majority of its doctors in private practice all over the town, it is understandable if medical and healthcare services have gone down considerably since independence. I’m told that when it was King George VI Hospital, it was the place to go to for medical treatment.

Comparing medical services at public and private hospitals is like comparing cattle and donkeys. There can be nothing in common between them other than eating grass. One is a beast of burden while other provides milk and ghee before ending up at a dinner table.

It is for this reason that I am 100% behind Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyongo’ the Minister for Medical Services to get this country moving again towards universal healthcare insurance.

Yes, if patients admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital and other provincial hospitals would pay well for their services, public hospitals would generate enough cash to hire qualified hospital administrators, doctors and nurses, buy enough medicine, beds and bedding and feed their patients with food fit for human beings. This is not the case now and nobody is doing anything about it! As it is, patients at these public hospitals just survive their ailments by the grace of God. No wonder stranger preachers prey on their crowded beds giving them unsolicited blessings.

After being discharged from M P Shah in May and spending seven weeks in the USA, I surely saw the difference between healthcare services we get here at home and those that are provided in developed countries. In the USA, the first thing that hits you is the sense of welcome by the hospital staff right from the Hospital reception desk. Nobody barks at you to demand what you want or meets you with a chilly “Can I help you” stare.

However, on my second admission at the MP Shah Hospital this month, I found the same smiling and welcoming faces I had observed the first time round. This time it was even better because the hospital CEO arranged for my Emergency Admission even before I left my house; but because there was no bed immediately available, I was temporarily admitted at the ICU where I was attended to immediately without any bureaucratic procedures.

Like all hospitals all over the world, doctors and nurses see thousands of patients such that it is unkind to expect them to remember their patients by name let alone their faces.

However, the staff at MP Shah Hospital seem to have made it their business to remember the names of their patients. In my case they all call me Mr. Jerry!

However, on my third and last day at the hospital two unique ladies paid me a surprise visit soon after breakfast on my hospital bed. They were Mrs. Maina the Chief Nurse and Mrs. Munyugi the Chief Matron. When they entered my room, the first thing they noticed was a laptop and burst out laughing! I kept wondering what was amusing these to senior ladies of the hospital. Then Mrs. Munyugi let the cat out of the bag! The two ladies had read my article in the Star in May and remembered word for word what I had written about. They were amused how I described their ambulance services that last time.

As they stood laughing in my room, they noticed that my side of the wing was under construction making it impossible to open the windows. And they started imagining how I would describe the scenery this time, hammers, cement and all falling all over me!

After they left, I kept thinking about them and wondered in which other hospital can patients find nurses and matrons with this sense of humour?

How many nurses, matrons and doctors have the time to read newspapers like these two ladies; get the humour and talk about it months later?

When they left my room, I felt blessed and much better that morning. It was like I had been visited by my guardian angels.

Mrs. Maina and Mrs. Munyugi; keep laughing and smiling with your patients; it is the best care and medicine you can ever give to them and it costs you nothing! Thank you for caring for me and making my day!


Anonymous said...
July 20, 2013 at 12:08 AM  

kudos to M.P.Shah staff! Night one and they are great. Right from admissions to wards.