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Ownership row of the War Memorial Hospital deepens

War Memorial Hospital signpost defaced by unknown individuals on January 27, 2024. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The controversy surrounding the War Memorial Hospital deepened yesterday after Nakuru County Secretary Samuel Mwaura stated that the hospital, established in 1921, no longer exists.

This came after two signposts erected by the hospital's management outside the facility and at the main gate were defaced on Friday evening by unknown people.

The defacing of the signage occurred despite the heavy presence of the police and county enforcement officers at the facility located in Milimani Estate and next to Nakuru State Lodge.

Dr Mwaura, however, declined to comment on the defacing of the signage and why, saying the matter was in court.

“The hospital is no longer operational since we took over on January 23, 2024. We will make no further comment on the same because the matter is in court,” he said.

Mwaura had earlier admitted that Governor Susan Kihika's administration had taken over the management of the hospital following claims of neglect by staff.

This is despite the court order issued by the Environment and Lands court on October 30, 2023.

He claimed that a relative of one of the patients had been denied access, and other patients had complained about the services.

The woman claimed that her attempts to see her mother, who was on dialysis, were frustrated from 8pm on January 22 until January 23 at 3am, when the county raided the hospital. She said she knocked on all the doors, but no one opened.

However, The Standard team had camped at the hospital from 5pm until the raid but did not witness such.

Her claims were also denied by the hospital management led by the CEO, Patricia Musale. Musale confirmed that the hospital is among the best in Nakuru County.

Musale said the patient was admitted at 4 pm, and they attended to her.

She said they only locked the door when they heard rumours of a raid but ensured all the patients were safe.

“We have offered services to patients from all corners, including the retired Chief Justice David Maraga. All the 300 staff in this hospital work in unity to ensure services are of high quality,” said Musale.

To ensure the hospital operates for 24 hours, the hospital set aside seven acres from the entire 25 acres where the hospital stands and established servant quarters.

Musale said essential staff, including nurses, live there to ensure they are ready for work in case of emergency.

Unconfirmed claims from residents and politicians are that the county government is interested in the land. A staff member intimated to The Standard that there was demarcation on the land.

However, Mwaura denied the same and said the claims were propaganda meant to tarnish the Nakuru county leadership, led by Governor Susan Kihika.

“There is no demarcation on the alleged land. All claims against us are not true,” he said.

The county government has refused to vacate the hospital since it took over on Tuesday last week. This is despite a court order issued on October 30 that stopped any interference from the county government.

The court not only visited the hospital to confirm the takeover but issued new orders on January 23 and January 25, directing the Nakuru County Police Commander Samuel Ndanyi to escort hospital staff and management back to repossess it.

A court process server, Moses Mbuthia, attempted to serve Ndanyi with the orders on Wednesday last week, but he was not in his office. He did the same on Friday even after Ndanyi promised he would be in the office. It was not successful.

“We are legally allowed to serve him on WhatsApp or any other electronic means. We did the same, and the order is duly served as per the law,” he said.

Since Wednesday, The Standard team has been trying to reach out to the police commander through calls and messages. He has not replied to date.

The Ministry of Health has remained quiet on the War Memorial matter. CS Susan Nakhumicha avoided questions when she unveiled the Health Transformation Strategies on Friday.

We contacted Nakhumicha yesterday and asked her why the ministry was silent, yet patients were affected.

We also sought to know what the ministry was doing to address the matter and if the takeover of the hospital was justified. Our questions were not answer.

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