Kenyatta National Hospital will remain closed for renewal for at least six months.
It aims to upgrade the 1,800-bed facility and then attract Kenyans who have gone to more expensive private hospitals over the years.
They often end up with bills they cannot pay and bodies are not released until the bills are settled.
KNH is the largest public hospital in Kenya and in the region.
During the closure, public facilities built and upgraded by Nairobi Metropolitan Services will cater to other patients.
Already patients are seeking services in other new facilities.
KNH was built in 1901 and houses the Medical School of the University of Nairobi and other facilities and agencies.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said, “Public hospitals should be good at the people we deploy and provide continuous training in non-clinical issues like reception and customer care that people opt to go to public hospitals instead of private hospitals. Choose.”
“The best equipped hospital in this country is KNH. Had I been unwell, I would have preferred to go to Kenyatta instead of a private hospital,” said CS.
Ouma Oluga, NMS Director of Health Services, said the number of patients in KNH has come down with the commissioning of at least 14 new facilities in six months alone.
He said, ‘This is not rocket science but the ground reality. The number of patients in the KNH has decreased because people in informal settlements now have access to health care services,” Oluga said.
He said that over 160,000 patients who would otherwise go to KNH were treated in 15 new hospitals.
Having hemogram machines in new hospitals means fewer patients will have to go to KNH for laboratory services.
“As we open these hospitals in Nairobi and better hospitals in other areas, about one in each county, we may have to close and renegotiate referral hospital standards,” he said.
Last month, Health PS Susan Mochache said the ministry was planning to upgrade KNH.
The infrastructure is getting worse.
Resources have been mobilized, cancer centers and theaters have new equipment and drugs.
The deteriorating condition has been attributed to the financial burden of patients being unable to pay their bills. The hospital has had to offer a bill waiver.
For example, in 2019, the hospital released 300 patients from the wards after the ministry ordered a loan arrangement.
A lot of work has gone into transforming the facility over the past few years, said CEO Evanson Kamuri.
“This year alone, we have received over 1 billion for equipment. Even when you hear doctors complaining [about the lack of equipment], we have modern equipment,” Kamuri said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the city’s health facilities to provide 24-hour services. Uhuru said most hospitals open between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., shutting down residents and forcing them to go to KNH.