nurses in 1954The idea that gave rise to the magnificent Nairobi Hospital was conceived in the minds of a number of white settlers in colonial Kenya in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. At the time, King George the VI Hospital (now Kenyatta National Hospital) could not hold the influx of white settlers after the Second World War. This gave rise to the formation of The Kenya European Hospital Association in 1950, a governing outfit that was charged with improving medical services essentially for the Europeans.

The association’s first achievement under its first chairman, prominent Nairobi businessman Rudolf Anderson, was the purchase of the Maia Carberry Nursing home (now the Kenya School of Law). The nursing home was converted to a men’s hospital. The association then built the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (now The University of Nairobi Dental School) which was opened in 1952 and named after Princess Elizabeth who had then visited Kenya. The hospital was dedicated to healthcare for women.

In the same year, 1952, the association acquired the Old Polo Grounds and on 20th October 1952, His Excellency the Hon. Sir Evelyn Baring, Governor of the Colony of Kenya laid the foundation stone of The Nairobi Hospital (then known as European Hospital). This foundation stone can today be found to the right of the wide steps outside Matron’s office.

Nairobi Hospital in 1954On 9th April 1954, a showery Friday afternoon, The Nairobi Hospital was officially opened by the Ag. Governor Sir Fredrick Crawford (later Governor of Uganda). It consisted of four wards (today’s Maternity and Labor ward, St. David’s, St. Andrew’s and St. George’s wards. Other facilities included two theatres, casualty, x-ray, pharmacy and laboratory departments.

Dr. William Hopkirk, a radiologist, pharmacist George Mercer and Dr. Henderson Begg, a pathologist with the help of two physiotherapists, Miss. Vera Spencer and Mrs. Irene Robinson pioneered medical services to both in and out patients in The Nairobi Hospital. They rented space around the casualty and brought their own equipment and medicine for which they charged fees to the patients. This was necessitated by the fact that the Kenya European Hospital Association now known as Kenya Hospital Association which had built the hospital could not raise the funds required to equip the hospital and employ specialists.

In 1956, the Kenya Hospital Association opened the Cicely McDonnell School of Nursing, the first privately owned nursing school in pre-independence Kenya. Headed by Miss Campbell, the first sister tutor, the school admitted only five white students.

Today, 60 nurses graduate every year from the school and it is the only institution in Kenya that trains hospital-based Kenya Registered Nurses. The institution is funded by the Nairobi Hospital.

Nairobi Hospital Foundation PlaqueNairobi Hospital Foundation Plaque

Opening of Cicely McDonnell School of Nursing by Mrs. Mary Baring, Wife of the Governor of Kenya on 8th March 1956

On 19th October 1961, a major milestone was made in the history of The Nairobi Hospital, in a meeting held at the Stanley
Hotel, the board agreed to drop the European orientation and the hospital was now open to all races in regard to patients, medical and nursing staff. The following year, 1962, saw the admission of the first African students at the Cicely McDonnell School of nursing.

parking area in 1963Independence in Kenya resulted in an exodus of Europeans and consequently the hospital’s patient population dropped dramatically. The financial difficulties that followed made readjustments necessary; the Kenya Hospital Association sold the Maia Carberry Nursing Home to the government in 1963 and the Princess Elizabeth Hospital was also sold soon after thus concentrating the Nairobi Hospital to its present size. The Association took over the Laboratory of Clinical Medicine (now Jubilee House) and moved it to the hospital premises.

Nairobi Hospital in 1963The seventies brought marked growth in the hospital’s capacity development. In 1970, an Intensive Care Unit with only four beds was opened on Britannia Ward (now St. George’s wards). A third theatre was also constructed and an open corridor that led to the theatres was closed to reduce human traffic near the operating rooms. In 1972, the casualty was enlarged with provision for consulting rooms above it. Additional staff quarters, a staff clinic and a school for their children were also constructed.

In 1974, the North Wing, dabbed ‘Hilton on the Hill’ was opened providing spacious five star accommodation and facilities. This was partly intended for the reception of the aging and ailing President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta. He was to occupy the top floor and his entourage was to occupy the rest of the six rooms.

  • The first kidney transplant performed at the Nairobi Hospital in 1978 on a patient named Koko.
  • 1980: Dr. Shem Musoke, (later become A & E Coordinator) survived an attack of Marburg Fever disease contracted from a patient.
  • On 31st December 1980, the Norfolk Hotel was bombed and the Nairobi Hospital handled the crisis efficiently with 41 casualties admitted.
  • On 21st April 1997, the Nairobi Hospital laboratory set up a Tuberculosis section for diagnosing TB cases.

wards in 1970Medical Milestones

  • August 1997: The Hospital conducted its first ever Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) Course to over 60 doctors and nurses
  • August 7th 1998: The United States Embassy in Kenya was bombed. Two hundred casualties were received at the hospital within the first 30 minutes.
  • 2002: The first operative laparascopic surgery was carried out.
  • 4th October 2002: a new patient care Medical Scheme was launched.

Theatres RoomDown Memory Lane

  • Old bed and back rest replaced by new adjustable electric bed
  • Bed pans Devides used for patients elimination while confined in bed.
  • Former – manual washing; Current – paper disposable
  • Steaming inhalers
  • Old operating theatre
  • Modern Endoscopy Machine
  • Cardiac Angiography System machine

View the Equipment Photographs

Other Related Information
» Kenya Hospital Association / Legal
» Hospital Management

Similar Posts