Putting Children First
Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital has formulated a lasting legacy throughout Kenya and beyond thanks to its steadfast dedication and commitment to being a foremost leading paediatric facility for all children in need.
The hospital was founded in 1947 with the donation of land by British explorer Colonel Ewart Grogan, and is named in memory of his beloved wife, Gertrude Edith. More than 300,000 children are seen every year at the hospital while 6,000 are admitted as inpatients. Gertrude’s has become known as a ‘giving’ hospital and has received several awards and accolades for its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.
TABJ had the opportunity to interview Gordon Otieno Odundo, CEO of Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital. We asked about the recent opening of the Chandaria Medical Centre which was attended by the President of Kenya and the role the hospital has played in changing the healthcare landscape in Kenya and its surrounding region.
The facility, named Chandaria Medical Centre in honour of the Chandaria Foundation, is a major beneficiary of the foundation that donated Ksh.100 million to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital last year for the construction and installation of equipment in the newly established facility.
The Chandaria Foundation was established in 1956 by the family to reach out to the needy people in society. The foundation has built a reputation for lending a hand in implementing various charitable projects within the continent, with Kenya being one of the biggest recipients.
Built on four levels, the facility incorporates a modern diagnostic centre in the basement, an enhanced 10-bed intensive care unit (ICU) on the second floor with an adjacent four-bed high dependency unit (HDU).
“The Chandaria Medical Centre has enhanced our ability to offer more specialized treatment and medical care to more children and we consider its establishment a great milestone towards the hospital’s aspiration to become a regional centre of excellence in paediatrics,” Odundo begins.
A number of very special dignitaries were also on hand for the marvelous opening ceremonies.
“It was indeed a great honour for His Excellency the President Uhuru Kenyatta to spare his time to inaugurate the Chandaria Medical Centre,” Odundo tells us. “Getting the president to open the facility was meant to send a message to the government and the public that the Chandaria Medical Centre is an important achievement in the healthcare industry.”
Within the president’s entourage were top government officials from the relevant ministries, players from the private sector and the diplomatic community.
“These are people we consider vital to our cause since they are part of policymaking in the country,” Odundo continues. “His involvement gave us publicity of a lifetime in terms of media coverage. Millions of Kenyans were able to catch the happenings of the day via their television and radio sets and if a study that suggests Kenyans are more attracted to news that talks about the president is anything to go by, then this was a great idea.”
No. 1 in Paediatrics
Last year, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital received the Reduction of Child Mortality award for the second time; the first being in 2010. The award was the result of an entry submitted by the hospital based on their “Well Baby Immunization Programme”, a project aimed towards providing immunization/vaccination services to children at all points of contact with Gertrude’s healthcare workers, regardless of whether they are paying clients or needy cases. This has seen transformational impact on children living in Nairobi and its environs, and Laikipia East.
Being the leading paediatric facility in East and Central Africa, Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital’s role in the healthcare industry cannot be overemphasized. Gertrude’s main branch together with the nine satellite clinics attends to more than 300,000 children as outpatients and admits 6,000 children as inpatients each year; a very significant number in a population of 44 million people.
The idea of opening satellite clinics is to provide services closer to the people and this is a strategy Gertrude’s Hospital has perfected over the years. The next stop with this initiative is Mombasa. After finishing in Kenya, the plan is to explore the possibilities of coming up with more branches in neighbouring countries.
The Gertrude’s Institute of Child Health and Research is one way through which the impact of the hospital has been felt in the region. Started in 1999, the institute continues to empower medical personnel through expert trainings and research.
The institute has played a crucial role in capacity building through courses tailored to meet the ever increasing paediatric health demands. Some of the training offered at the school includes: Paediatric Advance Life Support (PALS), First Aid, Phlebotomy, Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment (ETAT) and Paediatric HIV/AIDS management, among others. The courses attract participants from as far as Zambia and Rwanda.
Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital is committed to the provision of quality healthcare to children and puts more emphasis on initiatives geared towards that goal.
The hospital believes having a leading number of highly trained and youthful staff is one sure way of beating others in the game. For the past few years the hospital has invested heavily in the hiring of qualified staff members and offering training courses that are aimed at equipping staff – especially medical – with the knowledge and skills necessary for the handling of new emerging issues.
In this day and age, the use of technology is so crucial in the delivery of healthcare. The hospital has been able to acquire a number of state-of-the-art pieces of equipment such as the low-dose Philips Ingenuity 128-slice CT scanner housed at the Raja Bhagwanji Radiology Unit within the Chandaria Medical Centre.
The hospital will continue to partner with international healthcare experts in areas of training in order to take their level of expertise to international standards levels.
“(We have) Inpatient services; we have 12 beds for the Paediatric Intensive Critical Care that includes a Neonatal unit,” Odundo says. “(We offer) Radiology services with a modern CT Scanner. (For) Outpatients we offer Paediatric Emergency care; a wellness service; travel vaccine advisory Center; specialist consultant clinics that includes a Dental Unit; a Child Development Centre that caters to children with development challenges and a well-equipped pharmacy and laboratory.”
The corporate social responsibility of the hospital is largely run and implemented by the Gertrude’s Hospital Foundation, which was founded in 2010. Since its inception the foundation has continued to touch the lives of many needy people through its community outreach programmes. The main CSR activities include:
Two community outreach clinics at the Githogoro and Mathare slums that attend to about 105 patients daily.
The HIV/AIDS treatment program which currently caters to more than 2,200 enrolled HIV patients.
The cleft lip and palate repair surgery program in partnership with Smile Train International which attends to more than 135 patients annually.
The fellowship training of Paediatricians from East and Central Africa in collaboration with the World Diabetes Foundation
The free medical camps that are carried out in various parts of the country.
Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital is extremely optimistic about the future, largely due to political stability, which has created a conductive environment for businesses to operate and grow. Going forward, the hospital plans to continue opening more satellite clinics that offer specialized and comprehensive care to children.
“This is a successful strategy which has enabled us to open nine clinics within Nairobi and its suburbs, thereby bringing services closer to the people,” Odundo states.
To ensure continuity in the delivery of quality healthcare by highly qualified medical personnel, the hospital will continue to invest in staff training and development.
The hospital will also go on with its infrastructural developments to improve its capacity to handle the ever increasing healthcare needs of children in the country and beyond.