A management tussle at St Mary’s Hospital in Nairobi escalated Thursday, resulting in a few hours of disruption and suspension of services in parts of the facility.
Auctioneers and policemen acting on a court order procured by the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi stormed the hospital Thursday morning and forced the current administration out, saying they were under instruction to oversee a takeover by a new management.
They also installed new medical and non-medical staff, leaving the old hospital workers stranded.
But the incoming management said that it was willing to allow the staff back, claiming that it had only brought replacement because it feared trouble.
“We anticipated that the old staff might ground operations at the hospital in protest over changing management so we recruited and brought our own people. We have, however, not fired anybody and we are willing to keep working with the old staff provided they co-operate with us,” said Mr Morris Audi, who identified himself as the incoming hospital manager.
He said that the new management had hired 143 new staff, including 20 doctors, 20 clinical officers and 50 nurses.
The court order seen by this newspaper is the culmination of a seven-year legal battle between the Assumption Sisters of Nairobi who are trustees of the land on which the hospital stands, and an American priest Father William Fryda who founded the hospital in the 1950s.
Father Fryda lost the suit on ownership of the hospital.
Also included in the tussle is a similar hospital in Nakuru County, which the court says belongs to the nuns who went to court seeking legal redress after Father Fryda declined to hand over the management of the hospitals in 2010.
They claimed that the hospitals were their brainchild and that Father Fryda had only come in as a medical doctor.
Father Fryda, however, claimed that the Assumption Sisters only held control of the hospitals in trust as he could not legally own land in Kenya, and that he had singlehandedly sourced the funds to buy the land and build the facilities.
In Nakuru, Gigil residents came out armed to protect the facility.