Patients without national identity cards were on Wednesday morning turned away by security guards at Kakamega County General Teaching and Referral Hospital, sparking controversy over a new screening policy.
The hospital’s management said the move was part of measures to deal with security lapses identified at the hospital, but it ended up creating a surging crowd outside the premises and grumbling patients.
“All patients must present their ID cards and be thoroughly screened before being allowed into the hospital,” a security guard at the main gate said. Only emergency cases were exempted from the checks.
Doctors, nurses and other hospital staff were also not spared and had to produce their official badges before being allowed to report for duty.
The hospital’s management has contracted a security firm to enforce the checks.
Patients who had travelled from far-flung parts of the county were stranded. Although the county argues that the new policy is meant to ensure the safety of patients and staff, questions arose on how it was communicated to the public.
A number of patients said they had left their homes early in the morning unaware they were required to carry their ID cards. “We are being treated unfairly by the hospital which has disregarded our pleas to be allowed to be attended to,” a patient said.
Medical superintendent Victor Zimbulu said all patients will be required to carry an ID card or any other form of legal identification document. He said the system will help them come up with an up to date list of patients for planning purposes.
“We are trying to discourage people from showing up at the hospital without any identification documents. We have established that there are cases of individuals who sneak into wards and are served food meant for patients,” Dr Zimbulu said.