Because of their busy schedules, most chief executive officers seldom respond to communication promptly. However, Wilson Aruasa whose term lapsed as the CEO of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) mid last month, was known to respond to WhatsApp messages and emails within minutes.
According to his exit communication to staff, he is leaving behind a healthy hospital that impacts the society positively.
“He ensured prompt response to any issue within 20 minutes whether email or WhatsApp. Dr Aruasa also ensured that there were adequate supplies and we never missed anything we needed,” says Darwin Ambuka, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) chairperson for North Rift.
He states that Dr Aruasa had set the management of the health facility on a high, nurturing good patient and staff relations.
“It was under his leadership that we had the first kidney and heart transplant and hand replacement. We nurtured a good working environment where he put the interests of patients as a top priority and ensured high level of discipline among the staff,” observes Dr Ambuka.
Dr Aruasa recently handed over the mantle to Philip Kirwa, the senior director in charge of clinical services, to serve in an acting capacity.
By the time of his exit, Dr Aruasa had served for eight years at the helm of the country’s second national referral hospital after Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi.
He took over from John Kibosia in 2016 at the hospital that serves more than 20 counties in North Rift and Western Kenya and patients from regional countries.
On December 18, 2020, former President Uhuru Kenyatta re-appointed Dr Aruasa to serve for a second term until January 21, 2024.
“It’s been eight exciting years as CEO. I’m very happy and excited with the real transformation achieved — infrastructural developments, positive staff culture and attitudes, efficiency and high-level performance, managing and working with all stakeholders very well, proactive and empathetic/compassionate patient care that is family-centred to millions of patients from across the globe, ethical leadership, working well with the community, adopting technology,” he wrote in his communication to staff.
"Good working relations among staff with resultant industrial peace and harmony, making MTRH an institution that embraces continual improvement and continuous learning, a responsive institution with quality at the core of our operations, climate change contribution and many more," he wrote.
"In short, we have had Total Societal Impact (TSI) as required of a modern and future-looking institution. MTRH is today a most impactful institution across the East Africa region".
Dr Aruasa holds a Master of Medicine in obstetrics and gynecology from the University of Nairobi, a bachelor’s degree in medicine and surgery from Moi University and a global executive MBA from United States International University.
Infrastructural projects implemented under Dr Aruasa’s leadership include expansion of the facility's intensive care unit from six units to 40, installation of the modern oxygen plant with a capacity of 2,000 litres per minute, the Chandaria Cancer and Chronic Disease Centre and installation of phase one of radiotherapy equipment at Sh320 million.
Others are the construction of a 45-bed neurosurgery ward with two theatres and Shoe4Africa children's hospital that supports among others, those diagnosed with cancer.
“We thank God for all these achievements and I’m sure MTRH will continue to soar high as we have developed and nurtured the right talent for that. I want to thank the Government of Kenya, staff and trade unions and patients and partners that include Moi University, Indiana University with AMPATH consortium among others,” said Dr Aruasa.
The end of his term opens a succession race to replace Dr Aruasa who was the hospital's fourth CEO. Intense lobbying has kicked off for who become the next boss.
Those mentioned as possible contenders include Edward Serem, the former health executive at Nandi County, Dr Joseph Sitienei (head of health policy at the Ministry of Health), Elijah Songok, the acting Kemri director general, Dr Kirwa and John Chumba, who has served as the head of pediatrics at MTRH.
KMPDU's Dr Ambuka said the next chief executive officer "must" come from within MTRH for "perpetuity and sustainability of good MTRH culture".
According to the unionist, “We are aware there is intense lobbying for this job from the Afya House and we want to say we will not accept politicians interfering with the process. We insist that the next chief executive officer must be from MTRH since we have many qualified medical doctors who can take over or else it won’t be business as usual.”