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Presidential Wing: Where Patient in-Chief can hold cabinet meetings

Nairobi Hospital. Presidents have been treated at the hospital. [Nairobi Hospital]

Most of Kenya’s Presidents have been treated at the Presidential Wing of Nairobi Hospital-which is also available to any patient who can afford it.

The Presidential Wing is akin to the Presidential suite found in five-star hotels.

“Any hospitality unit may designate a unit in their setting as President’s room mainly due to the standard of the unit,” explains Dr Joseph Aluoch. “Anybody who can afford it can use it. I have personally used the Presidential Wing at Nairobi Hospital on one rare occasion.”

If the president falls sick, he is given the first preference, but “you cannot keep a premium accommodation empty waiting for a president to fall sick. And, it is not mandatory that a president uses it as he, too, has freedom of choice,” says Dr Aluoch, the patron of Clinicians Society of Kenya.

The Presidential Wing was hived off when founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta began having heart problems. It was the nearest, best hospital for his admission from State House, Nairobi. But Jomo never used it, as he hated hospitals and most medical procedures. Jomo died in State House, Mombasa on August 22, 1978.

President Daniel arap Moi either used the Presidential Wing or was flown to Israel, while President Kibaki either used it or was flown to South Africa or England. The last two have also died.

Dr Aluoch, however, clarified that the Presidential Wing is just a name. The Wing is meant for the executives who can afford it. It has dining and boardrooms in which a president can hold Cabinet meetings during a crisis when admitted there.”

  Dr Aluoch offers that for security reasons, presidential cooks from State House supervise how the meals given to the president is cooked or handled.

Ben Radonji, a physiotherapist at the Nairobi Hospital, says the rich elite prefer the Presidential Wing, as it is specifically designed for a certain class comprising business moguls, CEOs and leading politicians.

 Patients there have special privileges: They can come with their own personal doctors and physiotherapists, as “it is your pocket that takes you there, not necessarily because you’re a president,” says Radonji.

Dr Aluoch says prominent Kenyans are flown overseas or to South Africa for treatment when some procedures cannot be done locally due to lack of special equipment.

 “Things like robotic surgery, MRI guided operations in which it is the robot that identifies where the problem is inside the body, are not available locally,” says Dr Aluoch, listing South Africa, India, America and some European countries as where such services can be found.