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 sixteen 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 Role of Physical Therapy at Tenwek Hospital

Physiotherapy Staff for WEBThe Physiotherapy Clinic meets weekdays at Tenwek to care for a large number of out patients.  These include orthopedic post-operative patients and others presenting with a wide variety of musculoskeletal, medical and neurological conditions. Children with disabilities and special needs are seen in a Special Needs Clinic (SNC) which meets regularly.  Here, children from birth to age 18 can receive proper identification, assessment, and management of their disability at the SNC so that they can have better access to education, their community, and a better quality of life.

The Physiotherapists also consult on pediatric and adult inpatients with a variety of post-operative conditions and a wide range of Medical, Orthopedic and Neurologic problems as well as wound care patients.

Physiotherapy Staff

pt staff for WEB

The Physiotherapy department is led by Physiotherapist Solomon Rop and has a number of additional staff providing a variety of PT services including some prosthetic work. Staff work well together and are very supportive and helpful to PT volunteers who come to volunteer and serve at Tenwek Hospital.  They are well trained and provide effective PT care. They are also very open to learning from PT volunteers who come to serve. Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology volunteers are welcome and very valuable at Tenwek as there are no OT’s or SLP’s on the Tenwek Hospital staff at this time.

Since Physiotherapy is primarily a hands-on service, there is limited PT equipment available or needed.  However, PT supplies like exercise bands, splinting supplies, and developmental tools and games for children being seen in the Special Needs Clinic are always welcome and put to good use.

A Day In the Life of a PT at Tenwek Hospital

skip sol and halo pt for WEBThe weekday begins with Orthopedic Teaching rounds on the Ortho unit. These rounds generally start at 0700, but PT’s who attend may show up at any time during the teaching rounds. This is followed by walking rounds when the group, including PT director Solomon, make rounds on all the Ortho patients in house on the Ortho, Male and Female Surgical, Pediatric and Wound Wards.

PT’s may then stay in the hospital, making therapy visits to patients on these units or may go to the Physiotherapy clinic where dozens of patient may already be queued up to be seen by a doctor or PT. Generally there is an opportunity to pray with Solomon before the day of patient care in the Physiotherapy clinic begins.

Patient care in the clinic or on the hospital wards continues until 1300 with a mid-morning break around 1030 for Chi (tea) time. Tea can be enjoyed on one of the hospital wards or with the Physiotherapy staff in the department. Lunch generally lasts from 1300-1400 or so.  Physiotherapy volunteers may have lunch in the visitor housing dining room or may have been invited for lunch with one of the missionaries at Tenwek. Friday lunch is in the hospital canteen. The workday general ends at about 1630.

In addition to providing Physiotherapy care for patients there is an opportunity to pray with patients and their families. Staff devotions occur Wednesday mornings, from 0800-0900. On a rare occasion, a visiting PT might be asked to provide the devotion if they wish to do so.  There are also opportunities to get to know and develop relationships with other volunteer staff at Tenwek in a variety of specialties.

Weekends are generally free for exploring the local community, hiking, resting or other activity.  Sunday mornings there is a church service in a large meeting room on the Tenwek Hospital campus. Church is generally from 0900 until perhaps after 1100.

Staff Interactions at Tenwek


PT’s at Tenwek Hospital work closely with other staff including nursing, respiratory therapy and medical.  Orthopedic physicians are available in the Physiotherapy Clinic for consultation and other physicians are available in the hospital for consultation as well.  PT volunteers staying in the Tenwek Hospital visitors housing have opportunity to interact with other volunteer medical professionals who are staying there as well. While many Kenyan patients are English speakers, some speak only Swahili or Massi. There is generally someone, another patient, a member of the staff, or even a visitor available to interpret so communication with patients is rarely an issue.




Advances in Prosthetics at Tenwek

Woman with Walker for WEBDue to trauma and other causes, there are a tremendous number of patients in the Tenwek referral area that are in need of a new limb. Tenwek Orthopedic Surgery does an average of three amputations per week, mainly related to trauma. Thanks to efforts by USA prosthetists Tanner Claridge and Allen Dolberry, a major effort is underway to revitalize the Tenwek prosthetics lab and provide support and training for Tenwek’s prosthetic staff. These efforts will result in making prostheses available to more patients whose lives can be transformed by a new limb. You can see scenes from the Tenwek prosthetic work and those involved in delivering prosthetic care here. 

Future Plans/Goals

Space in the Physio department is increasingly limited as the orthopedic service grows and the patient volume increases.  here is hope for additional space soon. Additional staff is always appreciated, as in PT departments in the US. Volunteers are welcome and hopefully the number of volunteers serving at Tenwek will grow. Because of the nature of patients seen, equipment is not a big need at this time but PT supplies like exercise bands, splinting materials and reference books/materials are always appreciated.

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 Physiotherapy team, please contact Skip Roy ( – 919-624-6381 / 919-848-3697) or Dayna Wright who oversees volunteer physicians for Tenwek at World Medical Missions ( /828-278-1168).