When the Ministry of Health recently gazetted 35 hospitals that had been upgraded to Level Five category, the RFH Specialist Hospital in Nairobi was among the few private health facilities that made the cut, joining long-established institutions like The Aga Khan University Hospital, Coptic Hospital, Gertrudes Garden Children’s Hospital, MP Shah Hospital, The Karen Hospital, Mater Hospital and Nairobi Hospital.
Unlike RFH, the other hospitals enjoy the financial backing of their parent companies and are established institutions.
RFH is affiliated to Ruai Family Hospital, which was started by Dr Maxwell Okoth, now 31, only a few years ago.
Dr Okoth told the Business Daily that he started the hospital with a seed capital of Sh300,000, which he had borrowed from his mother and wife. In a few years, he expanded the business to five branches, including the 50-bed facility in Ruai and a 10-bed maternity hospital in Tala.
The latest categorisation by the Ministry of Health means that the medical graduate, who started with little more than a vision, joins established institutions in offering healthcare to Kenyans, especially in poor and middle class neighbourhoods, as the country seeks to roll out the Universal Health Care (UHC) programme.
RFH Specialist Hospital is a 100-bed hospital that Dr Okoth, a serial social health entrepreneur and founder RFH Healthcare helped to found. For his effort, Dr Okoth was last year recognised by the Business Daily among the Top40 Under40 men.
The gazzetment of RFH Specialist Hospital located in Ruai, and 35 others to level 5 county referral hospitals, on February 4 means that it joins the exclusive group that can offer a range of services, including specialised operations like kidney transplants.
“We have waited for this categorisation since we opened the facility last year. This means that we have to have at least three well-equipped theatres and certain level of doctors and personnel,” said Dr Okoth yesterday. “It means we can offer more services as a hospital and carry out certain specialised procedures like transplants. It underlines our dream of making health affordable and accessible to people because we have the capacity as a country.”
Outside Nairobi, the other hospitals that were elevated were Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, Tenewek and Garissa County Referral Hospital.
These are national and county government-backed institutions.
Besides RFH, Dr Okoth runs four hospitals, including a 24-hour outpatient facility in Embakasi, now gazetted as a Level Two hospital and an outpatient facility in Jacaranda Gardens. The chain currently attends to about 500 patients a day and has plans of expanding across the country in the future.
Dr Okoth graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBChB) from the University of Nairobi and has been admitted at IESE School of Business for the Global CEO Programme.
The elevation of his two health facilities was announced before Mutahi Kagwe was this week cleared to succeed Cecily Kariuki as the Cabinet Secretary for Health.