Drama as hospital ownership dispute spills over to school

Judy Akuma @PeopleDailyKe

The ownership row at St Mary’s Hospital Mission Hospital in Lang’ata, Nairobi has spilled over to the facility’s school, with teachers and students barred from the compound yesterday.

St. Mary’s Mission Hospital High School principal Alex Kaburu said teachers, including him, and students reported back to school for first term session yesterday, but were turned away by police officers, guards and auctioneers.

The security personnel said they were acting on orders from the new hospital management. Addressing journalists outside the school, Kaburu said students were told to return home until further notice from the management.

“We arrived at the school at around 6.30am only to find police officers and guards at the gate. They said they had been ordered by the hospital management not to allow the teachers and students to the classes,” he said, adding that he sought the intervention of Nairobi sub-county education office.

An education officer, quantity surveyor and other officials were sent to the school and teachers were allowed to enter the compound. Kaburu claimed classes had been broken into, with furniture vandalised and books scattered all over.

He is now calling on the Ministry of Education to intervene and ensure to ensure learning resumes at the school. “I appeal to the government to come out and fight for the rights of children by ensuring that the school resumes operations immediately,” he urged.

But new hospital manager Maurice Audi denied claims that the management ordered the school’s closure. He said the school is not owned by the hospital but by a separate entity—Medical Mission Charitable Trust. Audi, however, confirmed that security had been beefed up in the entire hospital compound, including the school. “The hospital is a separate entity from the school hence the management issues does not affect them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) petitioned the hospital over decision to send away 22 clinical officers after the takeover by the new management. Union chairman Peterson Wachira said ordering the officers to apply afresh for the jobs was unconstitutional as the staff already had legally binding contracts.

“It is illegal for the hospital management to send away staff and to order them to reapply. Most of the clinical officers have contracts running up to 2020 hence they should not be dismissed unfairly,” Wachira appealed to Health and Labour ministries to intervene and ensure that change of ownership of the hospital does not affect the terms of service of the staff.

However, Audi said, the management did not sack anybody but they were asked to avail their files to the hospital for verification. The incident comes barely a week after auctioneers and police acting on a court order procured by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi stormed the hospital and forced the outgoing administration out, saying they were under instructions to oversee a take-over by a new management. They also installed new medical and non-medical staff, leaving the old hospital workers uncertain of their fate.

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