Special Needs Clinic

Over the past two years, Tenwek Hospital has established a pediatric Special Needs Clinic which is operated  cooperatively by the hospital’s Physiotherapy (link) and Orthopedic Surgery departments. The Special Needs Clinic (SNC) has been the dream of Solomon Rop, PT who is the only trained Physical Therapist (PT) at Tenwek, and one of only 4 PTs living in Kenya. His vision has been to create a compassionate ministry for disabled children and their families.

Penny Bill for WEB

Penny and Bill Hage have stepped forward as FOT Champions for the Special Needs Clinic. Penny is a pediatric occupational therapist in Raleigh, NC. She and her husband, Dr. Bill Hage, an orthopedic surgeon, first volunteered at Tenwek in February 2015.

There are over 7,000 people living with disabilities in Bomet County alone and the clinic has served several hundred children with moderate to severe disabilities. 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.

Having a child with a disability in Kenya is an enormous emotional, physical, and financial burden on the child and their family. Many children with disabilities live in isolation, having no access to basic medical care, education, or special equipment and devices. Family members are forced to stay home to care for their disabled child and are unable to work.

Solomon Smile for WEB

 

Through Solomon’s work in both inpatient and outpatient therapy at Tenwek, God began to show him the needs of the vastly underserved disabled community in Kenya. He began to receive referrals from area families and together with support from missionaries, Amy and Woody Rule as well as Read and Suzie Vaughan, children began to be identified to receive therapy services as well as equipment for mobility.

 

SNC Addition for WEB

 

The children served have a variety of diagnoses including spina bifida, cerebral palsy, club feet, cleft palate, and numerous other physical and developmental disabilities. The cost of providing therapy services and much needed equipment is very often much more than families can afford, which is partly the reason so many children with disabilities are underserved. Getting therapy supplies and mobility equipment in Kenya is very challenging and costly. Most specialty seating and mobility devices are transported four hours from Nairobi.

 

 

 

Faith for WEB

 

To help offset the financial burden on families, the Faith Fund for Special Needs was established through Friends of Tenwek in 2016. This fund was created in the name of Faith, a young girl with spina bifida who was one of the first recipients of care through the clinic. The Faith Fund helps to allocate US funds and resources directly to Tenwek for the Special Needs Clinic. This fund pays for general therapy assessment and treatment, as well as developmental devices, wheelchairs, braces, prosthesis, crutches, and special seating.

 

 

 

Solomon Home Visit for WEB

 

The SNC operates on Friday mornings in the Physiotherapy Department at the Orthopedic Clinic at Tenwek Hospital. Solomon registers and treats up to 10 children in the clinic, as well as making several home visits to area families to distribute supplies and equipment.  It is the goal of the SNC to provide comprehensive medical and therapeutic care to children with disabilities.

 

Currently, Solomon begins with physical assessment, physical therapy, serial casting, assessment and measuring for assistive devices, mobility training, and/or developmental treatment. If there are medical needs, the orthopedic staff is consulted during their visit and the appropriate referrals for medical care are made.

Advances in prosthetics for special needs patients

Special Needs Clinic Story for WEB

 

There are many children in the Tenwek referral region that are in need of prostheses due to limb loss from trauma and a host of other conditions. 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.

 

Special Needs 2 for Web

These efforts will result in making  prostheses available to more children whose lives can be transformed by a new limb. This picture shows the beaming smiles and joy of four patients from the Bomet Children’s Home who all received their new limbs on the same day. Just moments later they were running through the grass for the first time!

You can see more scenes of these children and others involved with the prosthetic program at Tenwek here.

 

 

 

 

How you can get involved

  1. Serve as a short term missionary at Tenwek. Currently there are no Occupational Therapists or Speech and Language Pathologists at Tenwek and this is a proposed area of growth within this department. Throughout the year short term missionaries with expertise in PT, OT, and SLP arrive to share their skills and offer support to Solomon. This is a continued need for the success of the SNC. As the only PT at Tenwek and having the primary responsibility for adult acute inpatients, Solomon has limited time for the SNC, so short-term missionaries are of vital importance.  Many short-term missionaries transport therapy supplies and equipment to Tenwek that are very challenging and costly to provide in Kenya.  Donated supplies and developmental toys are put to good use through the SNC. To learn more about how your service can make an impact in the SNC at Tenwek Hospital, please contact Penny Hage (pennyhage@icloud.com or 919-345-4542.)
  2. Donate to the Faith Fund for Special Needs. Therapy services are costly for Kenyan families.  Evaluation and treatment costs between 500 – 800ksh, while equipment like wheelchairs and special seating can cost up to 23,000ksh.  The Faith Fund was created to offset costs for families and 100% of donations directly benefit children in the SNC. You can make a donation through the secure online form (above, at right) on this page.
  3. Pray for Solomon Rop, PT and the Orthopedic staff at Tenwek. Many children come to this clinic for the first time to receive services and equipment but leave with far more than physical assistance. Their families depart with the light of Christ and the hope there is assistance and support as they face the lifelong task of caring for a loved one with a disability.

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

masai-mara

 

 

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 in the Special Needs Clinic as an occupational or physical therapist, please contact Penny Hage (pennyhage@icloud.com / 919-345-4542) or Dayna Wright who oversees volunteer physicians for Tenwek at World Medical Missions (dwright@samaritan.org /828-278-1168).

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