Kitale District Hospital has identified a team of eight health care providers to lead palliative care services at the facility.
The team comprises of two medical officers, two clinical officers and four nurses alongside the hospital pharmacist, social worker, physiotherapist, nutritionist, administrator and the nursing officer.
The hospital is willing to allocate three rooms for the team to use as the hospital’s palliative care unit (PCU). The rooms were previously used by the nutritionist and the social worker who are to be relocated to other offices within the hospital.
Kitale Hospital Nursing Officer (I) Esther Jarenga says that palliative care has been ongoing despite having no space to operate from.
“Having been trained in palliative care, we have to implement it whenever and wherever. We have been moving in the wards as well as attending to outpatients. The hospital administration has been supportive towards establishment of the unit and has been able to provide the rooms and a few other things but we need support in the part of renovation,” she says.
She says that they are able to visit patients in wards and offer counseling which has proved beneficial to patients with cancer, diabetes, hypertension and other life limiting conditions.
Two of the palliative care team members recently completed placement at Eldoret Hospice and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) palliative care unit and have indicated that the experience was insightful.
The rest have made a benchmarking visit to Webuye District Hospital Palliative Care Unit to learn how the services are provided and have since promised to borrow a leaf from their visit. Both Webuye District hospital and MTRH PCU continue to offer mentorship to the Kitale PCU.
The unit is set to start once the three rooms are released, renovated and equipped with requirements such as an examination couch, seats, tables, stationery, and cupboards and a computer.
Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA) recently organized a Continuous Medical Education session (CME) to sensitize staff on palliative care concepts where about 100 health care workers attended from the hospital and other healthcare facilities nearby. They noted the need to have more sessions like those and promised to support the palliative care initiatives.
KEHPCA Executive Director Dr. Zipporah Ali talked on principals and concepts of palliative care, including the significance of pain management.
She encouraged the CME participants to support the hospital palliative care team as they plan to set up the services. She also asked them not to forget the needy children in their program.
KEHPCA’s Pain Relief and Palliative Care Coordinator, Dr. Esther Muinga assured the palliative care team of KEHPCA’s commitment to support the hospital to have a successful palliative care program.
This is part of the ongoing integration of palliative care services into District Hospital by and the Ministry of Health aimed at taking end of life care closer to the patient.
Among other suggestions, the team has requested for training of members especially at certificate and diploma level as well as regular CMEs to highlight the concept of palliative care to more hospital staff.