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[EXPOSÉ] Money Over Professionalism: The Shame of Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi

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In Kenya, it costs an ‘arm and leg’ to get medical care.

But who would ever think that Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi, one of the best in the providing healthcare, could sink to such lows?

We received the below email.

Do I lose faith in healthcare in Nairobi Aga Khan hospital?,

This is my story.

My husband had a very bad experience at Aga Khan’s coronary care unit (CCU) from the 25th March till the 28th March, 2019.

I used to have a lot of faith in Aga khan hospital. In fact, when we reached out to a few people to discuss how sad it is, what we went through, we laugh over how bad our experience was at the top hospital in Kenya. Friends and our insurance company urged us to reach out and speak to the CEO of Aga khan hospital, Mr. Shawn Boulouki, so as to share our experience to see if the situation can be remedied.

After an email to the CEO’s secretary explaining how my husband, as a heart patient, had received below average care in CCU, we were so glad the CEO agreed to see us straight away. My husband who was not allowed to drive for four weeks, drove down to Aga Khan because this was particularly important to him. He was supposed to be in hospital carrying out tests to rule out why his heart nearly failed.

We walked into the boardroom; it was full of the nurses from CCU and head of casualty and emergency unit amongst others. We were surprised, but thought it wise that they had brought everyone, considering our experience began from Emergency wing in Aga Khan. Allow me for the laymen to explain what emergency means: “A serious, unexpected and often dangerous situation requiring IMMEDIATE action”.

Sadly, our meeting with the CEO lasted less than 7 minutes. The security guard, Mr. Robert Tack abused, shouted at and threatened us for close to 5 minutes. As we entered the boardroom, Mr. Tack gave us a very cold greeting, he turned to me and asked ‘yes, what is it?’. This took me aback but I proceeded to tell him that I will do the brief as my husband has just had a procedure done with his heart two days ago and was not allowed any form of stress.

This is all I managed to explain: we called the doctor explaining my husband had fallen on the floor in intense pain at Westgate, the pain from his arm, back and now jaw was unbearable and so I called the doctor saying we are rushing in. He asked us to come to emergency. Upon reaching emergency we had to wait 7 minutes to get someone’s attention to get a bed and this is when Mr. Shawn Boulouki took it upon his self to begin shouting at me that if there is no bed in emergency there is no bed. (so, if my husband dies, he dies).

He then went on to tell me private doctors get to practice at the hospital as a privilege and scream at me that I should have the patience to wait and the doctor has zero authority to even ask a nurse for the bed and ECG could urgently be carried out.

Why was emergency care critical for us? because my husband had just had a heart attack in Dubai 8 months ago and this was not supposed to happen.

The CEO was screaming at my husband, pointing a finger at his face, threatening to throw us out. It seems the company had forgotten that, ‘employees are a reflection of their leader and if you make honest and ETHICAL behavior as a key value, your team will follow’.

He shouted at us, yet my four-day ordeal at the hospital had not been told to him (Shawn Boulouki) as of 29th March.

My husband had been treated like trash at Aga Khan hospital; without care if he dies.

Treatment Abroad

When my husband was treated for a heart attack abroad, from the time the ambulance placed an electrocardiogram (ECG) on his heart to the time his stent was put in was 45 minutes. This is known as the golden hour. This is when you save the heart from any muscle damage or a second heart attack.

Treatment at Aga Khan

At Aga Khan Hospital: when we rushed into the emergency, my husband was feeling dizzy, weak, and needed to just lie down; it took 7 minutes to get a bed. It took another 20 minutes to get the ECG machine, which was broken!

The doctors at Aga Khan pretended to know how to read the broken machine, because they ruled out that his heart is safe! Imagine, the nurse had to hold the wires tightly together to get a reading. According the doctors it was accurate enough. Appalling!

Never mind it took two hours to get a bed in CCU, but once we got to CCU everything moved from bad to worse.

When we got into room 6, there was water all over the floor from a dialysis machine. This had not been cleaned for 4 hrs. The bed was broken, the air conditioning was not working and the room was FULL of mosquitoes. We politely asked the nurse if someone could fix the bed so my husband did not have to pop up on an elbow. From 8 p.m., no technician came to fix anything.

The technician did decide to show up at 4 a.m. in the morning and wake my husband to fix the bed. It worked for a little till 10am when it broke down when he tried to sit up. It was not fixed for 5 hours after. The Air conditioning was never fixed.

The ECG machine that was used on my husband to check his heart after his surgery on Tuesday showed abnormal heart. That successfully managed to get my husband and I in a panic. However, we laughed it off with the nurses after the third attempt when she said these were faulty and the fourth test showed his heart is strong. Yes, we laughed it off. I wonder if this should be so acceptable considering a bed in CCU costs over Kshs. 40,000/- per day.

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They connected my husband to a monitor, that kept going off every 7 minutes showing he flatlined. Guests in the room were in disbelief. I took it upon myself to have a nurse correct the machine, yes, I went into the corridor looked for a nurse, knocked on ICU window to get anyone’s attention to switch it off. What is that was a real emergency? My husband would be dead again!

Anyway, the nurse came back and pressed the silence button. She said that the wires are lose, and she will fix it once the guests have gone. We waited.

After the wires were fixed, the machine would give haphazard heart rates, it would go from 40 to 85 to 25 to 90. This irked my husband, who took off the wires because the machine would not stop going off; making noise and he could not sleep. No one knew, no one checked.

Forget the fact that one of the other patients was so upset he wanted to sleep and had been waiting for his medication from 8pm till 12pm.

On the 28th Thursday March 2019, the doctors requested a test be done at 9:30am which was done on fasting. My husband was also requested to hold his urine as it was needed every half an hour for the tests.

At 10:30 a.m. he requested a basin so he could freshen up. We waited till 1:30 p.m., neither the test was done nor the basin was provided for him to freshen up. He was the one chasing the nurses for the juice he had to drink, telling them he really needed the washroom however the nurses were so busy they could not attend to him at all! He did not manage to do the test.

The straw that broke the Camel’s back was when one of the nurses walked in and confronted my husband why he had said that they had not goven him a birth for 3 hours yet only 2 hours had passed.

Enough was enough, my husband, a heart patient, packed his bags and walked out of CCU. He did not stop to see his doctors. His doctors had no choice but to allow him to go home and get the rest he needs to recover. We also decided to do these tests privately. Why did Aga Khan CCU treat us like this?

My heart is sad and I only hope and pray that the people I saw in ICU that couldn’t speak get the attention they need; that the lack of care, broken machines and incompetent staff we endured for 4 days, no one else has to go through that.

What is happening in casualty if this is the CCU section?

My husband was not allowed to go to pavilion so he could receive the personalized care.

And after a week of this and the panic of having my husband home instead of in CCU where I would rather he had been till he was told to go home made me question why should this go unheard.

And now that the CEO, Mr. Shawn Boulouki behaved so badly with us in front of his own staff only empowers them to behave the same way. He sets the standards. All the staff in the room saw that after Mr. Shawn had his lawyer and his Guard Robert Tack intimidate us, my husband had to sit down to catch a breathe. He left unwell. This was not what we were expecting.

Later we were told the CEO will not apologize nor come back into the meeting he had organized and walked out off.

Today, 29th March, Dr. Madgid called to say the CEO will meet us again, however we were told on the phone to have no expectations he is not interested in apologizing for how we were treated, we were also advised not to bring up how he had behaved, that all this will ANGER Mr. Shawn (CEO).

We feel robbed and violated. As I laid down in bed that night and I felt butterflies in my stomach from all the nervous energy of the week, I realized after the ordeal we had just been through this week dealing with an illness no one deserves to ever be treated this way. Let alone be let down by a hospital that prides itself of its high standards. But here I am, 4 days of being in the top facility in Nairobi I left with no faith in our care. And my husband and I realized we must speak. We must be a voice for the person that cannot get a bed in emergency and his situation got worse because of a lack of care, response time and now I see the overview of a CEO that still never heard me out.

It’s not acceptable that we sit around dinner tables after visiting ill people and discuss how we have nowhere else to go. If Aga khan is the best as it advertises, and this is our experience, what do we do? If I can’t turn to the CEO of the organization and even voice what happen with the intention no one else should suffer, what do we do?

Where are we headed with health care in this country?

Must I travel out of my home country for a second opinion every time?

Why am I being told that the board of trustees in the organization will do nothing?

Why am I told unless I speak to princess Zahra nothing will change?

Why are we left feeling alone after what we endured? Who will answer all these questions?

Who will be the standard for healthcare here (in Kenya)?

When will I no longer be a statistic in complaints taken to this hospital?

Who will stand with us to ensure no one else should ever be treated this way?


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