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KNH says power hitch solved as patients cry foul

Kenyatta National Hospital says it has solved a power hitch that plunged patients in darkness in some sections of the facility since Monday.

KNH communications boss Simon Ithae said the problem reached crisis level on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We are past the worst of the crisis. It was a big problem on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the technical team handling the recovery process has declared it solved after working round the clock for the entire week, he said.

Patients and their relatives cried foul after the computerised billing system broke down.

The breakdown, which KNH attributed to a fault caused by water in the power house, has caused families days of untold agony as they waited for their patients’ discharge documents.

Some family members were unable to get their patients discharged, with the problem affecting even the mortuary section, where delays were experienced in the discharge of bodies meant for burial.

Mr John Nguru from Makuyu, Vihiga, had been visiting his brother at the hospital’s adult cancer ward and was expecting a smooth, speedy discharge process when his brother died last Friday.

“When I went to process the releases of my brother’s body on Friday, the accounts staff told me the system was temporarily down due to a technical hitch and asked that I return the next day. I returned on Saturday only to find the problem was yet to be resolved,” he told the Nation.

Recounting the experience, Mr Nguru was to spend the remainder of the week on trips to and from the hospital without success.

“My brother’s details were not released despite my pleas to have the records of the deceased processed manually using pen and paper,” he said.

Mr Nguru said it was a difficult experience for some patients who were forced to go back to the wards as their discharge details were not yet captured by the hospital accounting staff.

“I have left other patients in the wards and their issues are yet to be resolved. We were more than 100 at the office by the time I was allowed to leave with my brother’s body this morning,” he said.

SOLVED

Mr Ithae said the problem occurred after water leaked into the hospital’s power house on Monday, causing a short circuit and a subsequent blackout that paralysed a number of operations in part of the referral facility including the computerised transaction system.

“The blackout also affected ICT services at billing, health information and cash points as well as well as some wards especially those that are not connected to a standby generator.

Our intensive care unit (ICU), theatres, Newborn Unit, labour ward, radiology, cancer treatment centre and renal unit are all on standby generator power in case of blackouts and were therefore not affected,” said Mr Ithae.

BLACKOUT

Saying there was no cause for alarm, he said hospital engineers have now restored the electricity supply to the entire hospital.

A spot check at KNH by the Nation team found the billing system back on, but with long queues at the accounts offices.

But some patients are yet to be booked for appointments in the cancer clinic due to the breakdown.

“We have made three trips to the clinic since March to secure a doctor’s appointment for my mother because of the system hitch. Her next appointment is scheduled for early next month and we can only hope this time we will get lucky,” said one of the patients.

Mr Ithae attributed the long queues to what he termed a backlog due to the disruption caused by the technical hitch, saying it would be a thing of the past in the next few days.

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