War Memorial Hospital shuts down after Nakuru County takes over management

The signpost of War Memorial hospital. [Joseph Kipsang, Standard]

The County Government of Nakuru has shut down the War Memorial Hospital after 101 years of operation.

The shutdown happened on Saturday morning after the county government successfully took over the management of the hospital that has been standing on a 25-acre prime land, on Friday night. Samwel Mwaura, the County Secretary said at the time of the takeover, War Memorial was treating 18 patients under different levels of care.

“We transferred some of the patients to Rift Valley Provincial  General Hospital Annex, which takes over the management of War Memorial Hospital,” said Dr Mwaura.

Mwaura said by 10.30 pm on October 27, the Annex hospital had taken over the care of all the 18 patients.

He said that some of the patients who were due for discharge were released and their bills waived, while those under critical conditions were taken to Annex.

“Some of the patients were taken from general wards to high-dependency units. We did not want to take any chances with patients,” said Mwaura.

Mwaura said the War Memorial will remain closed because there are medicine, machines and immovable items which belong to the then-private hospital.

He said until the War Memorial removes their items, the county will be using the Annex wing for services.

Nakuru county secretary Samuel Mwaura (centre) addressing the press at PGH Annex after the county took over the management of War Memorial Hospital.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The County Secretary said the takeover was smooth and no one resisted. He even said some of the staff especially at War Memorial Morgue had agreed to continue working

“Four of the patients were paying cash while the rest were under insurance. We will now engage the previous management to see how they will live the entire building,” he said.

He added that two families were allowed to take the body of their relatives from the morgue.

The hospital was previously privately owned since 1922.

However, Mwaura said the county government will also take over as the custodian of the 25 acre land where the hospital stands.

Mwaura retorted that the land has been reverted back to the government, following the de-gazettement of the Lease title given in the name of Nakuru War Memorial Hospital Limited.

"On the said land stands the War Memorial, Rift Valley Provision General Hospital- Annex and Helipad for State House," said Mwaura.

The building housing war memorial hospital and PGH Annex hospital in Milimani Nakuru county.[Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Mwaura noted that the Lease Title for the land was issued to War Memorial in 2010, effective May 1, 1992, for a period of 99 years. The same was supposed to lapse on April 30, 2021.

"Attempts by War Memorial to extend the lease in 2019 were turned down by Nakuru County," he said.

However, the county accuses the hospital of using forged payment certificates to acquire an extension for a further 50 years, effective April 2021.

Mwaura insisted the action was fraudulent acquiring of land, an issue under investigation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

He said the county government successfully petitioned the Registrar of land to cancel the lease. The same was cancelled on May 19, 2023.

"We have written to the National Lands Commission to be issued with a certificate of land reservation," said Mwaura.

The county issued a warning to individuals, groups or companies illegally occupying public land to vacate or be evicted.

The takeover comes days after the management of War Memorial claimed it owned the entire 25 acres of land and both hospitals.

The management through Dr Simon Mwangi insisted that they have never been taken to court for the ownership.

"The former President declared the private land public in 1970. However, no legal process was followed to acquire the land. Since we have the lease title we own the land," said Dr Mwangi.