It was on the 6th of May 2019 when a child was injected with 20 times the dosage of morphine at Shalom hospital. The result was death.
Ethan Muendo, a 7-month-old jolly boy was taken to Shalom Community hospital in Machakos to get treatment for a burn. Take note. Baby Ethan did not have any other ailment according to the parents. He had a burn.
He ended up in the hands of a community health worker at the facility who injected him with morphine 20 times more than expected.
Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) member explained that the 2ml morphine drug administered to the child should have been given orally by a professional and not a community health worker.
According to prof Were, “Morphine, being a heavy dose, interfered with the breathing of the baby. Besides, it was administered by an unqualified person”.
The infant breathed his last barely two hours after the injection. The baby’s mother, Juliana Mutheu said that the infant developed breathing problems and died barely two hours after the injection. What followed is a series of reactions, accusations and counter-accusations.
Shalom Hospital Remains closed
Shalom in Hebrew loosely translates to peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare. The irony is not lost as the hospital that borrowed a beautiful name appears to grace the news pages for wrong reasons.
Barely two weeks ago, a woman delivered on the floor while nurses sipped their tea at Shalom hospital in Athi River. Even then, the county government of Machakos was talking tough.
With Ethan’s death, it seems, options have run out and the county government closed Shalom’s Machakos branch.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua said, ‘Investigations have established that Shalom Hospital, Machakos branch, has myriad process failures, the hospital lacks proper procedures and staffing, the death of the infant could have been prevented, clinical officer and pharmacist gave the wrong dosage of a drug to be administered – 20 times more than expected,” Mutua said.
On the part of private health facilities in the country, the move by the county government is ill-advised. In a statement, the Kenya Private Hospitals Association argued, ”The closure of an institution which is duly registered and licensed must be a measure of last resort and can only be effected by the authority that provided such licensure in the first place.”
The statement continues to state the times when abrupt closure is justified listing them as;
- The continued operation of the facility poses an immediate risk to patient safety.
- The performance shortcomings are widespread and cannot conceivably be addressed while the institution is operational.
- The risk cannot be mitigated by the suspension of the concerned individuals pending investigation.”
The legalese and grandstanding between institutions entrusted with the provision of quality healthcare now leave the family to deal with their grief the best way they can as has many others who have fallen into the hands of reckless healthcare providers.