Otolaryngology (ENT)

Introduction & General Information

Aerial viewTenwek Hospital is a 300-bed Christian Mission Hospital located in the rural highlands of Kenya, 150 miles NW of Nairobi. It was founded by American nurses in the 1950s and its first physician, Dr. Ernest Steury, arrived in 1959. (The book, Miracle at Tenwek, tells his inspiring life story.)

Today, Tenwek serves 600,000 Kipsigis people in the region and receives referrals from throughout Kenya and surrounding East African countries. Learn more at the Tenwek Hospital website.


Tenwek is a major training center with residencies for African physicians in Family Practice and General and Orthopedic surgery through the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS). About eighteen interns do their first year of training at Tenwek each year; approximately 22-25 residents serve at Tenwek in Surgery, Orthopedics, and Family Practice. There is a large Nursing School on campus as well as a Chaplaincy School. Tenwek has a large, active Community Health department impacting a wide geographic area and serving as a model program for developing countries.


The Otolaryngologist’s Role at Tenwek

Wairimu Ndegwa, Russ Williams, Thomas Kelly-for WEB


Otolaryngology is a critical specialty at Tenwek Hospital. Services are presently supplied by visiting short-term physicians 3-4 times a year. As ENT surgeons, we are usually busy from the day we arrive. Our role is both teaching and clinical.

Clinical duties include seeing patients with our ENT physician’s assistant and operating throughout the week. We are intimately involved with the PACS surgery residents’ training in Otolaryngology. These residents will be providing surgical care to remote areas in Kenya and beyond. Their skills in ENT are greatly needed.



Daily Schedule

ENT Clinic Tenwek Robert Nagy-for WEB

A typical day includes rounding on patients with the general surgery team. Grand Rounds follows, including both medical and surgical topics. During our visit, we usually provide one lecture of interest on an ENT topic. Operative cases are then performed.

Clinic patients can be seen between cases and on designated clinic days 1-2 days a week. We also spend time in the Casualty area which is busy and accounts for up to 80% of the operative cases that are performed.


Eye Dental with text copy for WEB
Our clinic will soon be moving to the new Eye and Dental Building, West Africa’s largest eye/dental building which has been under construction at Tenwek for three years. It is scheduled to open in the Summer of 2017. We will have space there for clinic patients, audiology, and minor procedures.



Operative Experience

Chase Miller with surgical staff for WEBTypical cases seen at Tenwek include head and neck infections, airway obstruction, facial trauma, head and neck benign and malignant tumors, Mandibular cysts, thyroid goiters, cleft lip and palate. Cases of Tuberculosis of the head and neck, Anthrax, and trauma secondary to motor bikes, machetes, arrowheads, and buffalo also are seen.

The ENT-specific equipment at Tenwek Hospital is being developed. We presently have an ENT microscope in the operating theater.We have basic laryngosocopy, esophagoscopy, and bronchoscopy equipment. Our ENT tower includes a 0 and 30 degree endoscopy, camera head and HD screen.

We have basic endoscopy and nasal instruments. Head and neck resections use general surgery equipment and we have a maxillofacial plating set. We work closely with the anesthesia team which consists of nurse anesthetists and anesthesia techs. They are very skilled in difficult airways and provide excellent care of the breath of our patients.

An Extraordinary Experience

Volunteering to serve at Tenwek is an extraordinary experience.  There is something about giving of your skills and time to those in need that refreshes and renews you. Christ as the Great Physician will be your guide and strength as you encounter advanced diseases. It is also an amazing blessing to sow into the lives of the surgical residents who will be serving their people as the General Surgeons of the region. Serving at Tenwek is life changing.

Travel and Housing

Most physicians who serve at Tenwek do so under the auspices of World Medical Mission, a branch of Samaritan’s Purse (SP) It is a long journey to Kenya but once there, SP has staff who meet you at the airport and arrange a night at a guesthouse in Nairobi if necessary.

Tenwek Guesthouse
SP drivers will drive you four hours to Tenwek through the Rift Valley and center of Maasai land. There is a comfortable guesthouse on campus with private apartments. There is also a  common area and cooking staff (or you can cook yourself). Tenwek is in a rural mountainous area surrounded by small farms and tea plantations. It is a family-friendly environment and a safe area. Elevation is 6,000 ft so although you are near the equator the climate is moderate and changes with the rhythm of “dry” and “rainy” seasons.


African Safari Opportunity



The world famous Maasai Mara game preserve is just two hours south of Tenwek. Many visitors work with the hospital staff to arrange a short visit to “The Mara.” Hospital volunteers receive significantly discounted rates for this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Learn more about the Fairmont Mara Safari Club in this video.



Where do I go from here?

If you are interested in serving at Tenwek or being part of our Endoscopy/Gastroenterology team, please contact Chase Miller, MD (Chase_miller@urmc.rochester.edu / 585-317-3600) or Dayna Wright who oversees volunteer physicians for Tenwek at World Medical Missions (dwright@samaritan.org /828-278-1168).