Turkana County’s capacity to manage severe cases of Covid-19 has been enhanced after Governor Josphat Nanok officially opened Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and High Dependency Unit (HDU) centres at the Lodwar County Referral Hospital (LCRH).
Speaking during the official opening of the ICU and flagging off of three new ambulances, the Governor said the construction and equipping of the ICU wing was in preparation for possible critical Covid-19 patients but expressed hope that no such cases will ever be reported.
“I am glad that for the first time the ICU and HDU wings are fully operational. I have also visited the CT scan department. The ICU has three beds and HDU has four. There are three ventilators. We will increase the ICU beds to 13 in the next three weeks,” he said.
Nanok revealed that seven of the beds will be handed to LCRH while Kanamkemer, Lokichar and Kakuma Sub-County Hospitals will receive two each.
Governor Nanok also announced that the County Government will increase isolation beds from the current 154 to 365 in the next three weeks. This is in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive for counties to set a minimum of 300-bed capacity isolation facilities in preparedness for a surge in Covid-19 cases.
He revealed that the UNHCR was supporting the County Government to set up a testing centre in Kakuma by supplying RT-PCR machine, used to analyze samples for Covid-19.
“Another good news is that the UNHCR listened to our prayer and we are establishing a testing centre in Kakuma which will cut costs because we had to take our samples to Eldoret and Kisumu for analysis and production of test results,” Governor Nanok said adding that there were also plans to establish a test laboratory at the LCRH in the near future.
On support for Health Workers engaged in the coronavirus response, the Governor assured that Sh46 million for allowances was being processed to ensure the workers are motivated.
He said recruitment for additional 199 health workers by the County Government and another 67 courtesy of the Public Service Commission, was to ensure the county had enough health personnel deployed in all the health facilities.
The additional human resource will include an investment to rehabilitate and equip health centres across the county under the Universal Health Care (UHC) programme. The three ambulances are one each for LCRH, Lopiding and another to serve Kang’irisae, Kang’atotha, Kerio Centres and other facilities outside Lodwar within Turkana Central.
Governor Nanok said the county intended to replace the old ambulance fleet to support in referral of critical cases.
He revealed that Covid-19 cases reported in Turkana still stand at 21, majority being truck drivers who had driven from South Sudan through Nadapal, South Sudan and Kenya border. The Governor said seven truck drivers had been moved to the Kanamkemer Sub-County Hospital isolation centre awaiting test results.
He urged the public and health workers to keep following preventive measures including wearing masks when in public, maintaining social distancing and washing hands regularly with soap. He added that urban residents should stop frequent visits to rural areas to prevent the disease from spreading.
County Executive for Health Jane Ajele assured that screening of people at entry points and airstrip is continuing, with health workers taking details of those screened as part of disease surveillance.
The event was attended by County Secretary Peter Eripete, Chief Officer for Health Robert Abok, LCRH Deputy CEO Dr. Bonaventure Ameyo, Medical Officer In-charge Dr. Ekiru Kidalio, and LCRH Chief Administrator Simon Loyara among other county officials.
By Peter Gitonga