Nuns peacefully take over St Mary's Hospital in Nakuru

Saturday January 20 2018

Takeover at St Mary's Mission Hospital, Nakuru.

Nakuru County Police Commander Hassan Barua (left) and other officers and officials at St Mary's Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru County, on January 19, 2018. They provided security as the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the hospital's management. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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The Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the management of St Mary's Mission Hospital at Elementaita in Nakuru County amidst high tension.

The sisters, accompanied by hundreds of police officers, went to the hospital premises early on Friday morning and took over the previous administration run by American missionary Dr William Charles Fryda.

NEW MANAGEMENT

Unlike the previous violent takeover in Nairobi where the nuns forcibly evicted everyone from the hospital, the process in Nakuru on Friday morning was peaceful.

Nakuru County Police Commander Hassan Barua, who led a contingent of more than 100 police officers, provided security to the nuns as they installed the new management.

Takeover at St Mary's Mission Hospital, Nakuru.

Heavy presence of police at St Mary's Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru County, on January 19, 2018, as the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the hospital's management. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In his brief to journalists, Mr Barua said the transition was conducted smoothly and peacefully in accordance with the court orders.

He confirmed that the police officers had accompanied the nuns at around 7am to effect the orders by the Environment and Lands Court in Nakuru, granting the nuns entry into the facility.

"We arrived here in the morning to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of the hospital management. We are happy that the process was effectively done without any form of violence," said Mr Barua.

SECURITY

There was heavy presence of armed police officers during the process.

More than 10 Land Cruisers full of armed police officers were parked outside the hospital during the operation.

The takeover grounded hospital operations for at least three hours as the facility was out of bounds for civilians.

Patients were stranded for hours when they arrived at the hospital in the morning, as they were barred from accessing the premises.

Majority of the patients had appointments with eye specialists at the hospital, having undergone eye surgeries.

Takeover at St Mary's Mission Hospital, Nakuru.

Patients outside at St Mary's Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru County, on January 19, 2018. Civilians were barred from the hospital for almost three hours as the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the hospital's management. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

STRANDED

Mr Joel Nyandiega, who had brought his father for an eye check-up from Kisii County, said he was surprised after being barred from the hospital by police officers yet his father needed to access medical care.

“This is a hospital which has been serving the poor and it’s my appeal to the government to intervene so as to allow us continue enjoying the affordable services,” said Mr Nyandiega.

The county police boss said they would deploy only a few officers at the station to ensure security is enhanced.

Mr Maurice Audi, the manager at the hospital in Nairobi, said the process of setting up the new management had been peaceful because the workers had agreed to cooperate.

According to Mr Audi, the hospital would be managed by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi who were declared the legal owners by the court.

Takeover at St Mary's Mission Hospital, Nakuru.

Civilians barred from accessing St Mary's Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru County, on January 19, 2018, as the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the hospital's management. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

PROTEST

Incoming hospital manager Joachim Githinji, who will be in charge of the Elementaita hospital, assured workers of job security as long as they cooperate with the new management.

"The staff needs to understand that change in management is normal and as long as they agree to work with new team, their job will be secured," said Mr Githinji.

Details, however, emerged that some workers loyal to Dr Fryda had decided to down their tools to protest against the new team.

Mr Githinji said the workers had refused to go back to their work stations as instructed.

Takeover at St Mary's Mission Hospital, Nakuru.

Police vehicles parked outside St Mary's Mission Hospital in Elementaita, Nakuru County, on January 19, 2018, as the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi took over the hospital's management. PHOTO | JOSEPH OPENDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

SERVICES

The hospital management, however, confirmed that the hospital was not able to offer all services as some essential medicine and equipment worth millions of shillings were missing.

"The dental clinic is not operational since we found out that about seven key machines have been taken way. Medicines for the common ailments are also missing,” said Mr Githinji.

The takeover came barely two days after the court gave the go-ahead for the nuns to forcibly eject the current management.

Justice Sila Munyao had on Wednesday affirmed the orders issued on November 23 granting nuns the orders to access the facility.