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Nakuru War Memorial Hospital opens as Karanja warns county won't win

Eleven days after the forcible takeover and closure of Nakuru War Memorial Hospital by the Nakuru County Government, the facility reopened today following a court order.

This happened as Nakuru Senator Tabitha Karanja vowed to petition the Senate on the matter, accusing the county executive of being inhuman in its decision to shut down the facility.

Speaking in Naivasha town yesterday, Mrs Karanja said the 200 staff of the private health facility were in a celebratory mood. The health workers, who sang songs of praise as they marched back to the facility accompanied by the hospital’s administrator, Patricia Njeri, said operations would resume today.

On October 27, the county government on the strength of a resolution of the county assembly to reclaim public land, moved in and shut down the hospital, run by a private entity, on the claim it was on a public land.

Ms Njeri said they expected police to escort them on Friday last week or Monday this week but it did not happen. She said the county government finally they bowed to pressure following a court order of November 3.

“We have been camping outside the gate every day, since the first order was issued for us on October 30. The same was disobeyed, and a second order was issued to the police to escort us, but they declined.

“Dialysis and surgeries will resume as we want our patients get the services they had lost,” said Njeri.

Njeri confirmed that amid the takeover, they lost two patients who were in critical condition. She, however, said their death may or may not be attributed to the shutdown.

She regretted that some patients who had to undergo dialysis twice a week because of kidney problems had been forced to commute to other counties. Mrs Karanja had termed the takeover and subsequent closure of the facility unnecessary, wondering why “the sudden high interest in the facility.”

Best managed hospital

“This county government has failed in the health sector, but it still wants to take over one of the best-managed private hospitals, and this raises a major alarm,” she said.

Governor Susan Kihika is yet to comment publicly on the decision to take over the hospital, a process done under the supervision of the County Secretary Samuel Mwaura, and lands CEC John Kihagi.

Dr Mwaura has defended the decision, saying the county government was protecting public property from being grabbed by private individuals.

He has also denied that any patient died during the takeover.

“No single patient died as a result of the takeover and subsequent closure of the hospital. Records on how the patients were transferred and discharged are available. Anyone with evidence of death should produce it to relevant authorities,” Mwaura said.

But Karanja termed the crisis the lowest moment for the health department in the county. She said the facility was one of the best in dialysis services, noting that the closure had affected tens of patients.

“Tens of health centres across the county do not have medical supplies or human capital, but instead of addressing this, the top management is after private businesses,” she said.

She warned that the move was setting a bad precedent and eroding investor confidence, adding that the private entity had all the legal documents.

“The county is picking a war that it cannot win, and the governor, who is a lawyer, knows better. It’s time that we respected the law,” she said.

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