The last two weeks has shown the best of Kenyans as thought out in the spirit of “harambee” or pulling together. The story of Gladys Kamande, a middle aged woman who has been using an oxygen machine to breath, was catapulted to the front pages in the mainstream media as well as on social media, when a street kid cried uncontrollably while reaching out to her for help. The street kid, who occasionally sleeps hungry, had seen a car pull towards his side. The occupant was calmly seated inside the car and as the kid proceeded to the car to perhaps beg for help, he noticed Gladys wearing something around her neck while holding a small tank-the oxygen tank.
The street kid wanted to know the work of that tank which had a pipe that linked it with Gladys’ body. Gladys explained to the boy that the tank kept her alive. At that moment, the kid stopped begging and broke down to tears.
Gladys has braved the surgical knife 12 times. One of the surgeries ruptured her optical nerve. She went blind. She later suffered from Recurrent Thromboembolism that resulted in her lungs collapsing. Her body could no longer support her respiratory mechanism.
An appeal to raise funds to support Gladys’ treatment was kick-started by Ndugu Nyoro. Kenyans joined hand. They forgot their differences and when the campaign ended, over Ksh 8 million ($80,000) had been raised.
But there was a problem.
Ndugu Nyoro, in a Facebook post, narrated what he has encountered so far, as her seeks to get Gladys the best medical help and at the same time be accountable for the millions raised:
“The past one week has been the most stressful in my recent times. You have just completed a very successful #IamWithGladys campaign that raises Kshs 8M only to discover something may have been terribly wrong.
Caught between meeting the needs of a critical medical case and safeguarding public interests in ensuring proper utilization of the raised funds, I had to think fast.
How now? Please be my guest, read entire script and add your voice.
As it’s always the norm anytime we complete online fundraising for needy cases, I quickly organized for a meeting with Gladys and her family for a way foward. We had to deliberate on the treatment process which I considered most important,so more than the initial phase of funds appeal. I wanted a quorum to help us arrive at a solid conclusion.
The meeting was to be attended by Gladys, her Mum, her Brother, her Sister, her Uncle, her Sister-in-law called Patricia, Cllr John Kibue Kibs, a friend of mine called Chebet Kertich and Myself. Samson Buluma whom they fondly referred to as daktari joined us much later. I needed his input as well.
The family couldn’t hide their joy in the manner in which we carried out the process, the funds raised and the short duration of achieving our target. I took the compliments on behalf of my online family who sacrificed their all to give Gladys a chance for treatment.
I explained to all present my role to ensure Gladys got affordable treatment but to the satisfaction of us all the contributors. I mentioned that I had to audit the process until such a time Gladys would be declared health compliant after successful treatment.
The first query I had was on the arrangement for travels. I was informed Gladys would be accompanied by her daughter Annita. I mentioned to them I would through my network of friends assist in getting passports for the two. But there was one more addition- ‘daktari’. I was told Buluma would be travelling with the two, to enable him follow up on the treatment for their duration of stay in India and know how to nanage his patient once they return to Kenya. I disagreed.
After the passionate appeal for funds, I didn’t see any need for additional party yet we were not sure how much would be required for entire treatment. Sometimes, un-budgeted surprises crop up. We had to save as much just in case.
I really could not understand why Buluma insisted on traveling. So I probed him. He told me he is a CLINICAL OFFICER at KNH and he has been treating Gladys for more than 10 months. A clinical officer handling such a critical patient? Why not a consultant? At that point I opted to query further on his role of managing Gladys and to what extent.
A quack at Kenya’s largest referral hospital?
I realized my friend was not straight foward in his responses. I asked him how he arrived at his Indian hospital of choice and the treatment plan. He could not respond. I asked if he considered other super speciality hospitals that could offer better services. He didn’t have a convincing response. He could not table documents of his correspondence with the said Artemis Hospital. How did he, a CO, arrive at all these without the input of KNH consultants. He fumbled. At that point I felt there was a problem. The only response was that he had Gladys report in his head and would unleash it to the Indian doctors once he gets to India..
I left the meeting after some hours of intense discussion. I asked the family to allow me figure out the process.
In a bit to cover my investigations, I asked my friend Chebet to call KNH as we embarked on a mission to understand who Buluma was. The first call went to Dr. Wafula, head of Respiratory Unit. Ideally, this is the unit where Gladys matter would revolve around. Dr. Wafula said he has never heard of such a character. He told us the guy could either be a masquerader, a quack or an intern. But he expressed fears on the daily injections the patient was receiving at home. “I only hope he has been injecting water. Otherwise, her kidneys may suffer irreparable damage” he said.
I remembered Buluma had mentioned that he has worked at the Paediatric department. I therefore enquired at the place through the section head. The answer was negative.
Doctors could not believe the ‘doctor’ even was interviewed on a national television on this particular patient, how he was treating her and his plans for further treatment. He was a total stranger!
Having feared we could have our patient in the wrong hands, Chebet and I sent an official query through the Director’s office to have the hospital establish who Buluma is. (Official query attached).
On Friday, we were called in for a meeting at KNH. Dr. Nduhia, in charge of Paediatric Emergency Unit told us a person by the name Samson Buluma passed by her office the day before (Thursday). He was dressed in a white labcoat but didn’t have a name tag ( as is the norm with all KNH staff). She told us the guy asked a letter to indicate he has been on internship as a clinical officer in paediatric unit. But she told him that was not possible because she had never seen or heard of such a name in her department. He was asked to report back on Tuesday for her to seek clarification from Ward A, where he claimed he did his internship.
We were briefed on this development and asked to go back on Monday for Director’s official response to our query. But the doctors were utterly shocked by this display of boldness from a quack. An intern can only handle a patient with supervision from the doctors and at designated section. But in this case, Buluma had a critical patient he’s been managing at home for months! And now he was pushing the same patient to a country of unknown without a clear treatment plan.
Meeting with Director of Clinical Services
Yesterday (Monday) Chebet and I were called to a meeting with Dr. Githae and a Mr. Jared. Besides confirming our fears in official response (letter attached) they have the following to say:
1. Buluma is an intern at KNH and is supposed to rotate in clinics under supervision till Feb 2017.
2. Buluma is not allowed by law to touch a patient or practice with supervision by the senior clinician.
3. Buluma was masquerading to be a clinician and in the event something went wrong KNH would not be liable for any damages.
4. The sick lady needs to be seen by a panel of specialists led by a pulmonologist to ascertain the degree if her illness and come up with a medical report that will guide on the treatment plan.
5. Going to India for treatment should not be a patient’s sole decision. Doctors’ input is critical.
6. KNH is not an agent for any hospital in India. They only have an MOU with Apollo Hospital.
7. There should be no hurry in releasing the funds at this point. Proper check up is necessary.
8. No one should take advantage of the goodwill of Kenyans. Proper checks must be instituted.
As I am posting this, Samson Buluma is in a meeting with KNH Director of Clinical Services and other senior hospital officials as they figure out disciplinary measures. His matter will also b forwarded to Clinicians Council for more.”