The Mater Hospital was opened in 1962 by the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic Order of Nuns originating from Ireland, three years after registering themselves as the Registered Trustees of an entity under the Perpetual Succession Act (the succeeding legislation after independence). The "Sisters of ... read moreMercy" first set up a 60 bed general hospital to cater mainly for the poor, indigenous Kenyans, with the primary mission being general healthcare. The colonial authorities granted 12 acres of land in a swampy, mosquito-infested area, which has since become the Industrial Area of Nairobi. In 1970, a 60-bed maternity ward was opened with antenatal, postnatal and immunization clinics attached in order to upgrade the quality of maternity healthcare available to the poorer segments of the Nairobi population.
In 1972, in recognition of the contribution of the hospital in training midwives to assist births in rural areas, Mater was chartered as a School of Midwifery. In 1975, a consultant’s block of 6 offices was opened enabling specialised consultants to practice on site and deliver significantly better medical services to the patients. In 1986, the hospital opened its own pharmacy, physiotherapy and laboratory services and, in 1990, opened its counselling centre for inpatients, outpatients and staff who needed advice and guidance on family planning, HIV, and other concerns of a psychological and/or physical nature. In 1995, in a major building expansion programme, the hospital opened a larger and more efficient Casualty, Accident and Emergency Department, an Intensive Care Unit and a Cardiac Unit where open-heart surgery is performed.
The missionary role of the Sisters of Mercy has spread to other parts of Kenya and the Mater Hospital has become a private hospital that charges a fee-for-service to a patient population that has developed locally to a much higher level of affluence compared with other parts of Kenya. The financial objective of the hospital is to provide affordable healthcare to as many people as possible but also attempt to meet all of its costs, including depreciation, in order to replace and upgrade medical equipment.