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Donors, residents clash over hospital ownership in Nakuru

RIFT VALLEY
By Daniel Chege | August 17th 2021

 

Residents of Kasambara area in Gilgil Sub County [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A donor and locals at Kasambara, Nakuru County, are fighting over the control of a Sh150 million hospital.

The hospital, started 19 years ago, was closed in February 2020 following leadership wrangles between the community and the donors.

Donors from Switzerland visited the area in the year 2000 and decided to put up the facility.

The donors, after a series of meetings with locals, identified a five-acre land to construct the hospital. Ruth Schafer was appointed the manager on behalf of the donors.

Francis Wachira, a former Director of Kasambara Farm, said 200 locals attended the meeting and agreed to donate the land, where Rhein Valley Hospital sits.

He says that a public school donated an acre, the Catholic Church donated another acre while a resident, Mwangi wa Kaba, gave two acres of land.

“Late 2002, the hospital was opened and residents could easily access medical services,” says Wachira. Before the construction, locals claim the nearest facility was in Nakuru town, 25 kilometres away.

Wachira claims the donors agreed with the locals that the hospital will belong to the community. And when The Standard visited the facility, there was a notice indicating it had been closed indefinitely.

It was not clear who had written the notice in Kikuyu, English and Kiswahili. But the notice did not stop some residents from forcing their way into the hospital compound. The residents claim they entered the hospital after they discovered Ms Schafer was taking away equipment.

Benson Njoroge, a local, said they will officially take over the leadership of the hospital and hand it over to the county government. “We cannot allow them to take what belongs to the community,” he said.

Wambui Karanja, a healthcare provider and a board member at the facility, said once Schafer took over the hospital management, she sacked the board members and ran the hospital single-handedly. 

When The Standard reached out to Schafer for comment, she referred us to her lawyer Steve Biko, who said the hospital is a donor-funded project under the management of the Rhein Valley Hospital Association of Switzerland.

He said the board from Switzerland employed Schafer as a local manager of the hospital. “The donors built the hospital in Kasambara because the healthcare services were limited,” he said.

He refuted the claim that the community owned the hospital, saying the locals never contributed a penny towards its construction. The lawyer said the donors have been contributing Sh12 million a year to run the facility.

Biko said the property was registered on December 14, 2005, under the name of the hospital. “The fact that parents have pupils in schools and attend a church doesn’t imply that they own it,” said Biko.

He said Schafer had sent a lorry to take away equipment for storage in Nakuru for safekeeping. Gilgil Assistant County Commissioner Mogere Lumumba said the matter is sensitive, but will be solved.

“The community and the management want the hospital back to operation. That is what we will discuss on Wednesday,” he said.

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