As the country moves towards achieving Universal Health Care, key infrastructural measures are being undertaken in the county levels as health is one of the devolved functions.
Kerugoya General Hospital, Kirinyaga County, has refurbished and equipped the New Born Unit (NBU) as part of the reforms to reduce a neonatal mortality rate which now stands at 8 per cent down from 22 per cent in 2013.
The unit offers specialized neonatal care to ill or premature babies delivered at the hospital or referred from other facilities, offering great relief to mothers who could earlier be referred to Kenyatta Hospital.
The new facility that can now accommodate up to 40 babies is equipped with critical facilities such as incubators, Phototherapy machines, fluid pumps, oxygen splitters, radiant warmers, oxygen concentrators, suction and resuscitating machines.
The equipment is used for treating and supporting the babies until they attain the right weight to survive on their own.
Nancy Mburu, the NBU Nurse Manager, said that among the babies admitted at the unit are those born premature, with low birth weight, those born at term but have conditions such as jaundice or infections.
Mburu said that since a baby’s immune system isn’t fully developed, the healthcare team plus the mothers observe strict hygiene rules that include washing hands and changing into sanitized shoes as well as all other infection control policies.
She added that at times they have had to admit babies rescued after being abandoned by their parents where they give them the required nursing care or treatment before they are released to children’s homes or other caregivers.
The unit has also incorporated Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) where mothers are taught how to keep their babies warm through body contact and how to breastfeed those after they are weaned off the feeding tubes, before they are discharged from the hospital.
“The transitional care allows mother and child to bond. Sometimes the size of the baby can intimidate their mothers, but we are here to support them and show them how to independently take care of their bundles of joy, which then increases their confidence,” Mburu said.
Beatrice Wairimu, beneficiary of the unit, a 23 years old mother whose baby was born premature weighing only 660 grams. Her newborn son weight further dropped to 450 grams marking a long stay at the hospital for mother and child. She is currently at the Kangaroo Mother Care.
“The baby has now greatly improved and attained 1700 grams and is learning to suckle on his own. I hope that we will soon be released to go home with my son,” She said
Another mother whose baby is admitted at the NBU is Belinda Wanjiru. She said her child developed complications at birth and has been undergoing treatment for the past one month.
“When my baby came here, she was not responsive but I have seen great improvement and I hope we will soon be going home,” said Wanjiru.
The NBU is manned by a healthcare team of one pediatric doctor, two Medical Officers and 10 nurses.
By Mutai Kipngetich