On a sunny afternoon in January 20, 2021, Mr Anthony Monayo was dropped off by an unknown boda boda rider at the entrance of his Milimani, Kisii Town home.
The rider sped off moments after propping him up against the gate of his residence.
At the time, the 67-year-old dairy farmer, retired teacher and devout Catholic appeared dazed and was unable to speak.
He had woken up a normal, active and lively man that morning at 4:30 am.
After saying his usual prayers, he showered, took a light breakfast and went off to see his farm in his Kiogoro rural home.
He later left the farm and had a drink in a local pub before leaving for the nearby Menyinkwa shopping centre on a motorbike.
To date, nothing is known about how and where he got injured.
After all attempts to provoke a response failed, his worried wife Mrs Anthony Monayo rushed him to the Christa Marianne Hospital.
At the hospital, he was registered, admitted and put on an intravenous drip to try and stabilize him. His condition did not improve.
Mrs Monayo made an attempt to transfer him from the facility but was overruled by the medics who reassured her they were doing their best to restore his health.
By 3 a.m. he had become unconscious. The previously wide open eyes were now closed.
At around 8 a.m. the next morning, consultant physician Dr Raymond Oigara who was on his ward rounds saw the patient and recommended a CT Scan to detect possible brain damage.
The CT scan revealed that blood had leaked into the brain due to blunt force trauma, causing swelling and the subsequent shutdown of several functions.
Medics then recommended his immediate transfer to a referral facility with an ICU bed for critical care as he awaited urgent brain surgery to stop the bleeding and possible damage.
For the family, the next one hour was a desperate race against time as the wife made calls to hospitals looking for an ICU bed for Mr Monayo’s admission.
“We made a number of calls to hospitals in the area but unfortunately there were no vacant ICU beds. In Kisumu we also didn’t get one. Finally, a bed was found at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). We then quickly prepared for his transfer,” she told Afya Watch.
An ambulance was put on standby and nurses and their aides lifted the patient from his bed onto a stretcher to wheel him out to the waiting vehicle.
It was at that moment that the father of four convulsed and began foaming at the mouth.
Medics surrounded the stretcher and rushed back to the ward in a determined but futile attempt to resuscitate him. He passed on at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21, 2020.
“We were stunned and crushed by the sudden demise of my husband and children’s father. It was such a cruel, devastating blow,” said Mrs Monayo.
Had Christa Marianne Hospital opted to run the diagnostic tests on Mr Monayo earlier, quick action to save his life would have been taken. He might have lived to see another day.
His untimely demise is just but one of the many similar deaths that have robbed families in the county and other parts of Kenya, of their loved ones.
Trauma Centres Will Save Lives
These are preventable deaths resulting from delays in providing emergency care.
From May 17-23, 2021, the country marked the emergency medical care week.
The week quietly passed, with little mention of the huge risk that Kenyans face from emergencies that are not promptly handled.
Kisii County should urgently consider setting up a trauma centre to cater exclusively to accident survivors, a medic has now advised.
According to Dr Jacqueline Nyaanga Ondande, a trauma centre will quickly assist patients in need of emergency care.
Speaking to Afya Watch, Dr Ondande who works at Kisii University said the treatment of emergencies could be delayed in case of going through the process of ordinary admissions.
“The best we can do in some of the facilities is admit and stabilize you as we wait to transfer you to a referral facility like MTRH or KNH. This can consume valuable time that could have been spent attending to the patient,” She says a trauma centre would provide this service.
She notes that the normally slow process of patient registration and triage can waste valuable time that would have played a vital part in saving lives at risk.
“There are cases where the patient needs to urgently be taken to theatre for life-saving surgery, among other instances. Such cases could result in the death of the patient if immediate medical attention is not given. A trauma centre will handle such cases exclusively and help to save lives,” said Dr Ondande.
Dr Ondande lamented the lack of seriousness by relevant authorities towards the issue, saying the trauma centre has never been mentioned as a future project in the policy meetings she attends.
“I have been to meetings where the county’s health needs are tabled and discussed but I have never heard anyone talk about the need to have a fully operational trauma centre,” the medic said.
She said the conversation about trauma centres for emergency care needs to become a national one, with policy changes to establish them in law and practice.
“As a country, we need to position the health system to support the development of trauma centres. I think it’s imperative for every county to have one,” said Dr Ondande.
The medic said the facility could be located at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital, but operate as a separate entity dedicated to handling emergencies.
“Once it is in place, the primary function of the trauma centre will be to extract and assist trauma victims. This means that all patients arriving at the facility will be emergency cases,” she said.
Dr Ondande estimated that a fully operational centre would reduce the death rate among accident victims by as much as 90 percent.
To achieve this goal, she advocated for the centre to be fully furnished with the required resources, personnel and equipment.
“The centre should have a fully functional theatre, blood bank, diagnostic equipment and expert staff on standby. If we manage to address all trauma cases in time, we can reduce the fatality rate by 90 percent,” said Dr Ondande.
She said there was need for the county government to take the initiative and commence the project.
Dr Ondande warned the county government against expecting the help of the national government during the early stages of the project, saying it was more likely to chip in after seeing that some effort had already been applied.
“We should not expect that the national government will take up the project on our behalf from the beginning. What we should do instead is begin the construction and demonstrate willingness to get it done. Our head of state and the national government will then decide whether it is advisable to help us complete and even equip it,” she advised.
Dr Ondande was speaking during the Road Safety Week at the university.
Kisii University is conducting the awareness campaign in conjunction with the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA).
It aims to educate the public on road safety regulations and the need for road users to respect and protect one another.
“Road traffic accidents are a leading killer in the country and a public health concern. We are determined to contribute to a better standard of living in the community which definitely includes heightened road safety awareness and compliance with traffic regulations,” she said.
Data obtained from the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) shows that people 3,975 died due to traffic accidents in 2020.
This is compared to 3,586 people that died over the same period in 2019.
Pedal cyclists that died in 2020 are 90, reflecting 16 more deaths from the 74 that perished in 2019.
Dr Ondande said the university used to experience a high number of accidents involving motorbikes.
“We used to have many cases of accidents involving students, but these did not occur within the university. Remember, students also have a social life, and weekends were the riskiest for many, who would be on the move,” she said.
This trend has been reversed, she says, through heightened safety awareness campaigns and stricter safety measures on campus.
“We must all work together as drivers, riders, cyclists and pedestrians to ensure that we follow the laid down traffic rules. Our discipline and concern for other road users is the best way to save lives and avoid injuries and hospitalizations from traffic accidents,” she said.