Hospitals stop admissions, move patients over NHIF fraud probe

Concerned relatives ferried their sick family members to other hospitals as outpatient services were also suspended.

Ms Gatwiri expressed regret over the halt in operations due to the government-mandated investigations.

But Jekim Hospital Director John Kirimi distanced himself from the scandal. He explained that his facility only provided X-rays for patients before they were transferred to Nairobi hospitals.

"My facility was not involved in offering treatment. As we speak, we have not been paid for the X-rays done there," Dr Kirimi said.

Focused on admissions

In Kirinyaga, Afya Bora hospitals also remained closed. When we called the facility, a woman who only identified herself as Liz said they were no longer admitting patients. Afya Bora has outlets in Kagio and Mwea towns focusing mainly on admissions.

The concerns came to light after Salesio Thuranira petitioned the County Assembly to investigate the health facilities for alleged illegal treatments. Other hospitals implicated in the scandal are in Mwea, Kinoo, Eastleigh, and Ruai.

Mr Thuranira revealed that a resident impersonated a doctor and went around villages looking for arthritis patients with valid health insurance cards.

Most of the victims complained of having lost health insurance money.

At least two of the 12 victims named in the petition reportedly died following surgery for arthritis.

The Standard visited the home of Giddiel Kithinji, who suffered from arthritis and died on March 30, this year.

His mother, Brigit Joseph, 84, brother Wilfred Kaaria and daughter Charity Ntinyari are still crestfallen as they walk past Kithinji's grave in front of his house.

Kithinji went to Nairobi but Kaaria said he had misgivings about the trip.

"He had no other health issues apart from bent knees, but the arthritis bothered him. He was desperate to walk around and go to church with ease. When he was told surgery would cure him, he jumped at the opportunity," Kaaria said.

His mother said he called her before he was taken to the theatre, after which the hospital called the family to send more money.

"They called and asked us for Sh100,000 but while we were fundraising, my brother passed away," Kaaria said.

The family insist Kithinji was healthy before his visit to the hospital and demands an investigation into the cause of his death.

"He only had arthritis, no other complications. We need to know the truth and get justice," Kaaria said.