KENYA – The Radiant Group of Hospitals has set out to establish services that stand out by engaging staff who understand deaf patients.
“We are working on having services that stand out with staff who understand deaf patients. We will have nurses and receptionists trained on sign language,” Ms Salome Chiira, the proprietor of Radiant Group of Hospitals, said.
For most Kenyans, seeking healthcare is as simple as walking into a hospital, paying consultation fee, chatting briefly with a doctor who then comes up with a diagnosis and prescribes a treatment plan.
It is, however, not so simple when it comes to the deaf. For a proper diagnosis, they have to rely on third parties to communicate often intimate information that is ordinarily protected by doctor-patient confidentiality.
It can be undignifying, but such is their lot. To get the care they need they are forced to give up their right to privacy. Radiant Group has engaged Kambui School For The Deaf to train its medics and auxiliary staff.
When the facility will be up and running, initially at its Pangani branch within a year, it will have the latest technology to facilitate diagnosis and treatment of diseases of ears, nose, and throat, sinuses, larynx (voice box), and mouth.
Currently, some of the hospitals with dedicated ENT clinics include Nairobi Hospital, PCEA Kikuyu, Karen Hospital, and Gertrudes Children Hospital.
“There is no hospital that has taken a really keen interest on this. If a deaf person visits a clinic for general conditions, they have to come with a friend or family member who will have to translate to the doctors. We need direct communications,” Ms Chiira said.
The plans to set up the ENT unit follow paused expansion to Meru, Narok, Nyeri and Kisumu due to tough business environment worsened by the pandemic.
“The big picture was to go to every county. But we have pushed these plans to the future because the business environment has been tough. Local manufactures and drug suppliers have already alerted on changes of prices on all products by five percent,” Ms Chiira adds.
The pandemic led to a pile-up of unpaid debts including owed millions from private insurance companies and the National Health Insurance Fund.
The family-owned hospital runs seven branches – Pangani, Kasarani Sportsview, Kasarani Seasons, Umoja, Kiambu, Valley Road and Daystar University in Athi River with 200 permanent staff, 135 temporary staff and 50 visiting doctors, with 372 beds and 10 theatres.