Cardiothoracic Center Update: Resident Housing Completed & Funding Gap Closed!

The Cardiothoracic Center at Tenwek Hospital (CTC) will be a state-of-the-art unit to care for patients needing life-saving heart, esophageal, and lung cancer surgeries. The 175-bed CTC will house six cardiac operating rooms, a cardiac catheterization lab, an endoscopy suite with four procedure rooms, and a chapel.

Hospital leaders dedicate the recently completed Resident Housing.

The apartments for physician trainees are now open and occupied. The infrastructure upgrades required to build the CTC – including building excavation, electrical service, sewage treatment, and water purification – are well underway.

A funder has stepped forward to pledge all the remaining funds needed to complete construction of the CTC! Hospital leaders expect construction to begin in May and are seeking an exemption from the usual 16% government tax. Please pray with us for a favorable decision.

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Shem Tangus Appointed CEO of Tenwek Hospital

Shem Tangus, Tenwek CEO with Kyle McCarter, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.

Shem Tangus has been appointed Chief Executive Officer at Tenwek Hospital, effective February 1, 2021. He had been serving as the interim CEO since the end of 2019, following service as the hospital’s finance officer.

Mr. Tangus’s return to Tenwek is a homecoming. “My parents worked at Tenwek Hospital,” he explains. “My mother was a hospital chaplain for many years. I grew up at Tenwek – for me Tenwek is home.”

With a university degree in accounting, Mr. Tangus was recruited for the finance position at Tenwek and was excited by the opportunity to help the hospital navigate through operational challenges that result when many patients are unable to pay for their care. “I saw that God had prepared me in terms of my knowledge, expertise, and exposure to Tenwek.”

One of his first initiatives was to encourage enrollment in Kenya’s national health insurance plan, which pays a portion of patients’ medical expenses. This has raised the number of Tenwek patients covered by insurance from 40% to 75%. He also implemented an electronic payment system that eliminates clerical errors, instills confidence in patients, and ensures the hospital is paid promptly.

Even with improved revenue, however, the hospital collects only about 20% of what it is owed monthly. This makes the support provided by Friends of Tenwek both essential and rare.

“Donor support for a hospital is very unique,” says Mr. Tangus. “And it frees us to continue serving poor patients. Without our partnership with FOT we would not be able to do some of the things we are doing today.”

Mr. Tangus takes the leadership helm at a critical time. Construction for the Cardiothoracic Centre is about to begin; the installation of a comprehensive Health Management Information System is underway; new residencies in OBGYN and Neurosurgery are launching; recruitment for Kenyan consulting physicians in Obstetrics, Orthopedics, and Radiology has started; and the School of Chaplaincy awaits approval for its new curriculum. In the midst of addressing these strategic objectives, the hospital has been treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

The faith Mr. Tangus grew up with guides his life as he strives to match Tenwek’s excellence in health care with its support operations. His parents are thrilled with his relocation to Bomet. His wife, Faith, a medical resident, is grateful to transfer her internship to the hospital. And their two children will grow up, as he did, calling Tenwek home.




COVID-19 Update: Courage in the Midst of Challenge

COVID-19 vaccinations arrive at Tenwek.

In mid-April, Tenwek Hospital saw an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases – from only five cases in January and eight in February, to 52 new cases in March, including 12 staff members or students. The COVID-19 Holding Area and Care Unit (CHACU) has been at full capacity consistently through April, with resumed use of the Lower Holding Area.

Respiratory therapist Annette Lievaart notes the installation of a new oxygen concentrator – funded by FOT – has been a lifesaver. While the COVID medical team is providing optimal care for complex patients, most patients who are placed on ventilators do not recover. “The moral toll of losing these patients is hard on the staff especially, as our COVID patients appear more stable before being placed on a ventilator – able to converse and ask questions,” explains Annette. “This gives us the opportunity to share Christ and pray with them, which we are thankful for. But deaths are still hard.”

Tenwek has not postponed regular services during the pandemic and long-term staff have served for over a year without the assistance of visiting staff. Less than 100 visitors served at Tenwek in 2020 – about one third of the number from the previous year. As a result, physician assistant Val Sleeth reports that both missionary and national staff are feeling stretched and weary. “There is still great fear and stigma surrounding COVID in our community … and a cultural fear around the vaccine. We are in the ‘third wave’ now, which is really the first serious wave for our community.”

Shem Tangus, Tenwek’s CEO, recently told hospital staff, “Our Spiritual Ministry theme this season is Courage, which is especially imperative at this time. Living in itself takes courage because we find ourselves facing trials and tribulations of every kind regularly. But courage is not the absence of fear, rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. I pray that our service will be greater than fear.”

With travel restrictions being eased and testing more available, visits by short-term staff are beginning to resume at prepandemic levels. Sanitation and social distancing measures remain in place throughout the hospital and nearly 700 Tenwek staff have been vaccinated, as well as most missionary families. Travel to and from Nairobi for arrival and departure has not been impeded.

Service at Tenwek has never been more meaningful or needed. Learn more about a medical mission visit here

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Tenwek’s Latest Residency & Fellowship Graduates

Tenwek Hospital’s Residency and Fellowship programs address the critical need to train, disciple, and equip the next generation of African physicians to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ throughout the continent. To fulfill this mission, Tenwek has strategic partnerships with the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa (COSECSA).

Tenwek held its eighth PAACS commencement ceremony at the end of January.

The graduates are (L to R): Dr. Marvin Wekesa – Orthopedic Surgery; Dr. Fridah Orwa – General Surgery; Dr. Kimutai Sylvester – General Surgery; Dr. Sinkeet Ranketi – General Surgery; and Dr. Arega Fekadu Leta – Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Dr. Fekadu Leta is the first Cardiothoracic surgeon to graduate from the PAACS program at Tenwek and was the highest scorer for the Cardiothoracic Surgery fellowship exam administered by COSECSA.

Dr. Wekesa is the fourth graduate from the PAACS orthopedic residency program. Following graduation, he joined the faculty at Tenwek.

Tenwek’s Dr. Fridah Bosire earned the highest score in COSECSA’s General Surgery fellowship exam and was awarded the 2020 Gerald O’Sullivan medal. This annual award recognizes the surgical fellow who graduates at the top of the class at the annual COSESCA exams.

Congratulations to all!

HMIS Upgrade Project is Underway!

HMIS Upgrade Project is Underway!

The installation and integration of two new software systems to update and enhance how Tenwek manages electronic medical records, financials, and operations is underway. We praise God – to date, FOT donors have generously contributed $460,467 of the project’s $520,000 cost.

While Tenwek is committed to cover any balance, FOT’s goal is to raise the remaining $59,533 cost of the software. This will provide the hospital with greater flexibility and margin in its operating budget. As the project proceeds, FOT will continue to raise funds.

Hospital CEO Shem Tangus expressed his thanks to FOT donors. “We strongly believe that the new system will be essential in managing the day-to-day hospital operations including patient care management, financial management and human capital management. The new Health Management Information System will transform our operations and will help us provide more efficient and effective support to the clinical teams while they serve patients for the honor and glory of Christ. For this, we say thank you and we commit to be great stewards of this great gift.”

To make a gift to the HMIS project, use the button below to access a secure, online form.