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Patients at risk over county's closure of War Memorial Hospital

 One of the wards at War Memorial Hospital on October 28, 2023, after the facility was taken over by the Nakuru county government. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The fate of 46 patients set to undergo dialysis at War Memorial Hospital over kidney failure remains unknown after Nakuru County officials closed the facility after its takeover on Friday.

The hospital that remains shut is now under the management of the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital Annex, which stands next to it on a 25-acre prime land in Nakuru City.

War Memorial Hospital Director Simon Mwangi said there was imminent danger for patients who were undergoing dialysis. "All the patients have been blocked from accessing the hospital since Friday night," said Dr Mwangi.

According to the doctor, 30 patients undergo dialysis daily. He said on Saturday that 16 kidney patients called complaining of a lack of services.

Mwangi said they were forced to reluctantly refer the patients booked for surgeries and dialysis to other hospitals. "For patients with Kidney failure, if they do not undergo dialysis, they will die within days," said Mwangi.

He said they got calls from five people for morgue services but could not offer them, and they were forced to release four bodies on Saturday morning. "We have documents in the hospital, sensitive and expensive machines and pending test results that we cannot provide for our patients," he said.

Move to court

Mwangi said they will move to court today to defend their property from the takeover. The Standard reached out to one of the patients, who we will refer to as GJ. The patient said he went to the hospital on Saturday morning expecting services, only to be referred to Annex.

He said he did not feel comfortable because the only hospital he and his family knew for decades was the War Memorial. "I am unsure whether I will get services of the same standards as the War Memorial," he said.

The team also met a frustrated couple. After a 30-minute wait, the couple who were to undergo dialysis were advised to look for services from other hospitals.

There have been mixed reactions, following the closure of the hospital. County Secretary Dr Samuel Mwaura said the county has the capacity to take over the patients from War Memorial.

He said they will not be using the War Memorial side or their machines until the hospital either removes the items and medicine or negotiates a compromise. "We will provide good and better services to patients," said Mwaura.

MCA Njuguna Mwaura, the chair Committee of Health Committee in the County Assembly said the closure of the facility was an implementation of their report. He said the War Memorial Hospital had been barring the Annex from expansion, noting that the takeover would see more development on the land. "It is a first step in ensuring all public hospitals in the county have title deeds and are free to develop and compete with other counties," said Njuguna.

Hospital land

Nakuru ODM Secretary General Hilton Abiola said the takeover targets the facility's land.

"Services at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital (main) have deteriorated, and if the county manages the War Memorial the same way, it will collapse," he said.

Doctors termed the night invasion inhumane and uncivilised. "Within hours, patients' lives were endangered, and over 100 hospital staff lost their jobs," they said.

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