Governor Kihika, CEO clash over closure of War Memorial Hospital

Nakuru War Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Patricia Musale. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nakuru Governor Susan Kihika and the management of the War Memorial Hospital on Friday differed on the status of the facility.

While Kihika told senators that the facility was operational under the management of the War Memorial Hospital Limited, the hospital’s CEO Patricia Musale said the facility is closed.

However, the Governor admitted the county government took over the land on which the hospital stands after its lease expired and was allegedly extended illegally.

Kihika denied that her administration had interfered with the day-to-day running of the facility.

Kihika led a team of senior county officials to the Senate after the Health committee summoned her.

The hospital CEO appeared before the senators with a management team.

“As it stands, the management of the hospital has been taken (over) by Nakuru War Memorial Hospital Limited,” Kihika told the Senate Health Committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago.

She also said that from February 1, 2024, the county complied with court orders and the hospital was handed back to War Memorial management.

Nakuru Senator Tabitha Karanja pressed Kihika to explain why her government had taken so long to hand over the facility back to the management of War Memorial. Karanja told the committee that the hospital was closed despite a court order to hand it back.

“There was a clear handover and everybody saw the County Commander (of Police) at the hospital. We withdrew our security, we are not in control. We believe it (the management) is in possession of War Memorial Hospital,” Kihika said.

However, the hospital’s CEO Patricia Musale insisted that they were still not able to access the facility.

“Since January 23, the hospital has been closed,” said Musale.

Musale said the county raided the facility twice, and since then, the management had not been granted access.

“On October 27, 2023, the staff were chased out of the hospital at 11pm, and directed not to pick up their personal belongings,” she said.

The CEO had been asked to present some documents, but said that as late as Thursday, she could not access the facility because goons allegedly hired by the county government were occupying it.

Musale, who said she had worked at the hospital for over 20 years, said patients' rights were violated.

“Patients were not given any rights to make a choice and denied essential items like food, oxygen drugs and their privacy and dignity were invaded. They were given three options - to go home, go to any other hospital or go to Provincial General (PGH) Annex,” she told the committee.

Musale said a number of the patients were mothers who had given birth through Caesarean Section (CS) and those who had undergone major surgeries and were still in the ICU.

“There was total disruption of treatment. Patients were subjected to suffering,” she said

She said patients were left unattended to while some who had been scheduled for operation were stranded. Musale said some patients died in the fracas.

“By the end of the two attacks, at least six lives had been lost, as a result of disrupted care,” Musale told the committee.

But County Secretary Samuel Mwaura, who is accused of leading a team that raided the hospital, said they did not harass patients, and that the handover was smooth.

He said during the takeover of the facility, he visited the hospital accompanied by a team of doctors, nurses and anaesthetics.

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