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Intervene in a row over War Memorial Hospital – lobby urges NLC, Parliament

The Kenya Internally Displaced Persons Organization (KIDPO) Chairman, Peter Tena, addresses the media, as some members of the organization members look on.

The National Assembly Health Committee and the National Land Commission (NLC), have been petitioned to intervene in the raging fight between the County Government of Nakuru and the management of War Memorial Hospital, over ownership of the 101-year-old medical facility.

The Kenya Internally Displaced Persons Organization (KIDPO), termed the crisis as the lowest moment for the health department in the County, adding that the standoff was affecting tens of patients.

Through its Spokesman, Peter Tena, KIDPO further faulted a section of high-ranking politicians from the Devolved Unit for politicizing the issue by directing personalized attacks at the County government, terming the move as ‘counterproductive’ since it was ‘clouding’ investigations on the legality of War Memorial Hospital’s ownership documents, by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

Trouble started on October 28, last year, when the County government invaded the facility on claims that the management had illegally acquired a 50-year lease extension.

However, the County takeover of the Hospital was upset two days later when the Environment and Land Court issued orders, directing it to vacate the facility and stop meddling in its management.

The latest saga started on January 19, when five people, including two senior Directors of the Hospital, were arrested on claims of forging a lease document for the land.

The following day, the County government led by County Secretary, Dr Samuel Mwaura, raided the Hospital, took over the management, and kicked out Hospital staff.

Efforts by the Environment and Lands Court to have the County vacate the Hospital have been frustrated due to vested interests, as even Nakuru County Commander, Samuel Ndanyi, who was supposed to implement the order was initially unavailable to effect the Court Orders.

This compelled Justice Millicent Odeny, to summon Ndanyi, to appear before her and when he finally did, asked the Court to excuse him as he had pressing personal matters to attend to and had not deliberately ignored the court orders.

Available government records indicate that the Institution which was established in 1921 was named Nakuru War Memorial Hospital, to honour those who died in the First World War.

Throughout the colonial period, the Hospital catered to the medical needs of the European settlers and continued to serve the elite section of the society upon independence.

The Hospital is the leading private health facility in the South Rift Region and has over the years been the facility of choice for senior government officers, business executives, and prominent members of the society in the region.

The facility has 44 wards and attends to close to 60 patients daily, and has 200 workers and five resident doctors, the facility which sits on 25 acres of prime land is located in the up-market Milimani Estate, 30 meters from State House, Nakuru

The Hospital’s first brush with danger was in 1972 when founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, verbally ordered that part of the private facility’s building be taken over by the government, for the establishment of a public health facility.