(Continued from The Warrior Princess III)
The CEO of Chuka State Hospital, Joseph Kibaara is smiling. He is getting paid in millions to ensure people who are already dying go ahead and die. There is certainly no better place to work than Chuka State Hospital. But he has to be careful about the doctor he entrusts with the assignment. He is even tempted to do it himself, even though he knows he can trust the medical superintendent.
Chuka State Hospital is almost a brand new facility. Almost. It is built at the same place where Chuka County Referral Hospital was, but when Tharaka Nithi County became a State, the old buildings were all demolished and a sparkling new institution was created. All staff members were fired and asked to re-apply afresh. Some sued and the cases are still dragging in the Federal Courts. But most re-applied and were re-hired under new terms.
The Caucus had a hand in everything, from the construction to staffing. The Caucus still has a hand in all the supplies that go to the hospital, from medicines to food stuff. The appointment of the hospital CEO was the subject of intense debate in the Caucus.
Under the new hospital charter, the CEO has complete control over the day to day affairs of the hospital, subject to the direction of the Hospital Board. The Board is packed with members of the Caucus. While theoretically the Board supervises the CEO, the CEO’s decisions in the day to day running of the hospital are final. The Board only intervenes if the CEO goes rogue and attempts to shortchange the Caucus.
But it is the Medical Superintendent who makes the day to day decisions relating to medical affairs. She can be overruled by the CEO, but Kibaara hardly concerns himself with such mundane tasks. His core business is to make profits for the Caucus. The Medical Superintendent assigns duties to doctors and nurses and other medical staff and decides how medicines and medical facilities will be used on a day to day basis.
Fortunately for the CEO, the Medical Superintendent is also a crook. The Board made sure of that. So they agree on most things. The Superintendent is a doctor called Celina Kagure. When Kibaara received his instructions from the Chairman, he immediately asked his personal assistant to disable the communication system in the emergency center. That would give him some time to plan his moves before the Governor and her deputy were brought in. Then he called Celina to his office and briefed her.
“I will need to put together a team who can be trusted,” Celina said after getting briefed.
“Nurses and other assistants do not have to know what you are doing Celina. Just make sure you are at the emergency center when they are brought so that you can receive them. Once you open the chests to remove the bullets, do what you have to do to send them to their maker,”
“I cannot do it alone Joe. I will need another doctor,”
“Are you not listening Celina? We are not trying to save their lives. We want them to die. If you involve another doctor, there is a risk of that doctor talking. We do not want that,”
“On the other hand, if I attempt to operate on two patients at the same time, and they both die, there will be backlash. And it will affect both you and me. We might even lose our licenses, and I might go to jail if the families of the Governor and her deputy involve the Feds. But if we get a doctor who is on our side, then everything will appear to be above board, even if both patients die,”
“Do you have someone in mind?”
“Of course I do,” Celina says with a smile.
When asked his religion, Dr. Henry Muriithi says ‘Christian’. But he does not ordinarily describe himself as ‘saved’ or even a ‘good’ or ‘practicing’ Christian although he considers himself a good man. He does not go to church. He likes his beer and to him getting drunk is a good way to ease the pressures of his job and life in general. He also likes women in a way that the church does not approve. He used to have multiple girlfriends until he started dating his ex-girlfriend. That is a long story.
On the day Henry reported to work at Chuka State Hospital, there was an accident at Nithi Bridge. An overloaded bus had lost control and plunged into the river. Henry was one of the doctors on call. After all the patients were stabilized and taken to the wards and all the dead taken to the morgue, Henry went to the hospital cafeteria for coffee. He needed to unwind.
That is where he met Anne. He had seen her at the emergency center working with the paramedics and had been struck by her beauty, but he hadn’t gotten a chance to have a conversation with her. So when he saw sitting alone at the cafeteria, he moved over to her table and asked whether he could sit with her. She agreed, and that is how the conversation that lead to a romantic relationship began.
His relationship with Anne no doubt made him a better man. He slowed down on his drinking. He still took his beer, but he never got drunk in the entire period he was dating her. He stopped seeing other women. That is the part that surprised him. He simply lost interest in other women. Her determination in life challenged him, and when she enrolled for her Masters degree at Tharaka Nithi State University, she challenged him to start his. He enrolled for a Masters in Surgery at the same University.
Before he met Anne, his finances were in shambles. He lived from paycheck to paycheck and he could not even tell where his money went, even though he had been earning quite a good salary at the mission hospital where he had been working. But Anne taught him how to save and still live comfortably.
Simply put, Anne was the one woman he ever loved. Still loves.
But things did not work out. Celina, who was his classmate at the Moi University School of Medicine, came to the hospital as a medical superintendent and decided she wanted him as her boyfriend. Till today he has no idea why she chose him. He resisted her advances, and that is when the blackmail began.
When they were in college, Henry had a girlfriend called Phanis. At some point in their relationship she became pregnant but wanted an abortion. She insisted that she was too young to be a mother. Henry was relieved, because he did not feel ready to be a father himself. He gave her the money she demanded. She went for the abortion alone and did not even call him on the day she was going. Everything went horribly wrong during the abortion, and in pain she called her two best friends who came with a taxi to take her to hospital. They found no one in what was supposed to be a clinic. Phanis was lying on a makeshift bed, bleeding. By the time they took her to hospital, she was dead. A rumor started around the school of medicine that Henry had conducted the abortion himself. The rumor persisted for a semester then died down.
When, years later, Celina threatened to go to the police about that abortion, he laughed at her. But then she said she had witnesses. She called one of the two friends who took Phanis to hospital and they casually talked about the audacity of Henry conducting an abortion on his own girlfriend. The friend had no idea that she was on speaker or that Henry was listening. Henry had been too stunned to even speak. Next Celina came up with a copy of an old lease for a room in Eldoret’s CBD. She told him it was for the room where Phanis had been found. It had his name on it, and it included the dates when Phanis was found. Celina claimed that the landlord was ready to testify that he was the one who rented the room.
He knew then, as he knows now, that she is dangerous, which is one of the reasons he did not want to date her in the first place. When they were in College she had been dating a married Cabinet Secretary and was used to bullying everyone including lecturers. She once even caused a lecturer to be fired for failing her in a unit. So he knew things could go south for him very quickly if he did not do whatever she wanted, namely, to be her boyfriend.
Breaking up with Anne was the most difficult thing he had to do. He could not give her details, so he simply told her it was over. Life has been miserable since he dumped Anne for Celina. First, his current relationship is not balanced. The scales are tilted against him. He has to do everything Celina demands, including funding her exotic tastes because if he declines his career and freedom will go down the drain. The savings he had are now depleted, and he drinks more heavily.
Now Celina wants him to marry her. To make it worse, he knows she sleeps with other men. For instance, he knows for sure that she sleeps with the Chairman of the hospital board, a wealthy and connected businessman. She does not even try to hide it from him. She does not even hide the casual flings she has with men she finds attractive. And he knows she will not stop even after he marries her, and there is nothing he can do about it. He has contemplated suicide, but he has not gathered the courage to go through with it yet.
What she is asking him to do today is, however, way over the line. He cannot knowingly kill someone. He became a doctor to save lives, not to take them away. He intends to save the lives of the Governor and her deputy. But the one person who can help him is the one person who loathes him with every fiber of her existence.
Anne received a call from a friend telling her about the Governor’s shooting. She thought that that was strange, because Chuka State Hospital is the closest hospital to Ndagani Stadium. Someone should have contacted the emergency center. She almost thinks her friend is pranking her, which would be in very bad taste, but her friends don’t play such games. So she walks to the communications room where she is informed that the system is broken. She immediately puts together a team of paramedics and gets them into two ambulances. She hops into one of the ambulances and they speed out of the hospital towards the stadium.
Anne has come a long way in her career. When she finished fourth form, her parents could not afford to take her to college. Fortunately, she was recruited by a private institution that offers emergency rescue services. They trained her to be an ambulance driver. When Chuka State Hospital advertised jobs for ambulance drivers, Anne felt that that was her chance to grow, so she applied.
Immediately she was taken, she enrolled for a diploma course in clinical medicine at Tharaka Nithi State University. Then she did her degree in the same field, and then her Masters. She is currently pursuing her doctorate. She is now the head of Emergency Services at Chuka State Hospital and an adjunct lecturer at Tharaka Nithi State University. Career wise, she is satisfied. The one part of her life that she feels is completely off track is her love life.
And for that she blames one man. Dr. Henry Muriithi.
She loved that man with every fiber of her life. True, he was a reckless lover boy when she fell in love with him, and she was warned by her Christian friends about being unequally yoked. But under her love she saw him blossom into a responsible, loving man. She dated him for three years and felt she was ready to marry him. He proposed and she accepted. He paid her bride price.
She had promised herself that she would abstain till marriage, but she gave in to their mutual desire after the dowry event. She convinced herself that after her traditional wedding they were married so by making love they would not be sinning. But then he dumped her for their boss, the Medical Superintendent-a woman everyone knows sleeps with anyone with a whiff of power. By dumping her, he humiliated her in front of her family, his family and their friends. He made a mockery of her beliefs. And for that reason, she cannot forgive him.
Had she known he was the one calling, she would not have picked. But he called from his office line. And now she has decision to make in less than five minutes. Henry says there is a scheme to kill the Governor and his deputy, and has beseeched her to take them to Eagle Flight Hospital, a private hospital that is several kilometers away from Chuka State Hospital. It is at the border of Tharaka Nithi State and Embu State. But it is on the Embu side of the border, at a small town known as Kathageri.
If she takes the patients to Eagle Flight, she will be defying everything she was taught about emergency services. Chuka State Hospital is the closest hospital, and that is why her team is the one responding. If the patients die on the way to Kathageri, which is very likely given their condition, her career is over and she might even face jail time. If she takes them to Chuka State Hospital, she will have done her job, regardless of what happens to them there. But can her conscience allow her to take patients to a sure death? The ambulances are now very close to the hospital. She has less than a minute to make a decision.
(To be continued on Tuesday)
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