COVID-19 Update: June 22, 2021

Tenwek Hospital CEO Shem Tangus has provided the following update about the impact of COVID-19 at Tenwek Hospital:

We praise God for the calmness that has reigned at our facility since the confirmation of COVID-19 emergence in Kenya in March 2020. God has graciously allowed us to care for patients presenting at the hospital with COVID-19 symptoms from the time we received the first patient in July 2020. We continue to be vigilant, yet flexible to adopt the best course of action to disrupt the transmission chain in our community, hence minimize the spread.

The Kenyan Government, through the Ministry of Health, has put in place measures to contain the virus, especially now in the wake of the upsurge of cases from the Western Kenya region. In addition to the Government guidelines, we have put in place various restrictions to ensure that our patients, employees, and visitors are safe from the disease. The restrictions include:

  • Mandatory negative Covid-19 tests conducted within 48hrs for visitors of inpatients
  • One visitor per patient per day
  • Handwashing stations throughout the whole hospital
  • Main screening area with temperature checks for everyone getting into the Hospital

Kenya has had a relatively severe third wave of COVID-19 outbreak. Although national data showed that new cases peaked in March, the spread at our facility persisted long after that. Several cases seemed to suggest that some patients contracted the virus as inpatients at Tenwek. Consequently, the COVID-19 Operations Task Force and Management felt that a more aggressive approach was necessary to limit spread at Tenwek Hospital. We decided to use the Rapid Antigen Test to test all inpatients and caregivers/visitors, and to extensively reduce the numbers of caregivers/visitors. This initiative was begun in the middle of May 2021. We identified 22 inpatients and caregivers who tested positive for COVID-19. All who tested positive for COVID-19 were moved to the isolation areas. Caregivers who were not hypoxic or did not need hospitalization were put on home-based isolation.

During this time, we also had an upsurge in numbers of staff who tested positive for COVID[1]19. Fortunately, none of them required hospitalization and they were all put on home-based isolation. However, this caused a strain on staffing in several work areas. Utilization demands for COVID-19 patients overstretched the available beds in CHACU and the Lower Holding Area. Working with the County Government of Bomet, we managed to transfer a few patients to the government COVID-19 isolation facilities. Most of these transfers, however, needed intervention by authorities higher than what was available at the Koiwa County COVID-19 Isolation Centre to make the transfers successful.

As of 21st Jun 2021, Tenwek Hospital has had 537 patients test positive for COVID-19. We have had 114 staff test positive for COVID-19, 18 of whom have tested positive in the month of June 2021. We have had 73 deaths from COVID-19, none of these deaths involving any of our staff members. We have already conducted 4,287 Rapid Antigen Tests.

We have begun to perform PCR tests, and as of Monday 21st Jun, we had tested a total of 84 patients using PCR. The challenge with PCR testing is that the Laboratory department is also using the PCR machine for other tests, hence the need to have an additional machine and reagents.

The Kenyan Government moved the second dosage of the vaccination from 8 weeks to 12 weeks following the first dose. Our first vaccination campaign was given to Hospital staff and trainees. We managed to vaccinate 860 staff and members of our community during our first dose vaccination period. The Ministry of Health is yet to provide the second dosage of the vaccination to us in Bomet County, and Tenwek Hospital specifically.

We appreciate our staff’s selfless and unwavering support, especially during these difficult days.

Let us all go forward in courage as we continue serving in the Lord’s vineyard!

Meet Dr. Tim Clavin – FOT’s Champion for Dentistry


(R to L): Dr. Tim Clavin; his daughter, Emma; and his wife, Dr. Janiece Aldinger, enjoy serving at Tenwek as a family.

Tim Clavin, DDS, FOT’s Champion for Dentistry has been in practice in Minneapolis for over 25 years and has long had a heart for medical missions. He had completed several trips to Indonesia when a colleague suggested he explore an opportunity to serve at Tenwek Hospital. He made the first trip in 2008 with his family more than a decade ago and has returned annually ever since.

Good oral health is a habit with positive outcomes we take for granted, observes Dr. Clavin. But in underdeveloped nations, the combination of poverty, malnourishment, and poor oral hygiene leads to tooth decay and infections that can be life-threatening. Like much of the world, dentistry in the rural areas of Kenya focuses on a “surgical model” where people postpone dental treatment until pain forces them to seek care. By that time, surgical extraction of diseased teeth is the only option. Untreated oral infections also can lead to other serious health problems.

Tenwek’s dental clinic was marginally equipped when Dr. Clavin first visited. But he was impressed by the staff’s desire to be effective Christian clinicians. Milka Chepkemoi, the oral health officer, has a great desire to implement the “preventative” model of dental care which promotes good oral hygiene and treats dental problems before they become acute.

In 2015, Dr. Clavin’s church, Crossview Lutheran Church, sponsored a “Redeeming Christmas” fundraising campaign that raised $112,000 to purchase new diagnostic and treatment equipment for Tenwek’s dental clinic. Working through local Rotary contacts, he and a dedicated team of supporters also raised over $50,000 to equip a dental surgery operating room.

Dr. Clavin was asked to help design Tenwek’s new Eye and Dental Clinic, which has an ergonomic layout that benefits both patients and clinicians, and a designated surgical area. “We can do so much more with an operating room dedicated to dental surgery,” he explains. We can do more extractions while patients are sedated and reduce the fear and stress people associate with dental work. If people experience that trauma as children, they avoid dental care for the rest of their lives. Having a safe and calm environment to treat children and to remove wisdom teeth is a huge win.”

Dr. Clavin envisions that one day, Tenwek’s dental clinic may be a site where Kenyan dentistry students could find real-world field experience. Tenwek’s nursing students also could learn the importance of oral health and, “They might discover that dentistry is their calling,” he says.

For now, Dr. Clavin is focused on smaller wins. “For $25, a child can be seen in the dental OR. Small gifts like these are a treasure.” “If the Lord calls you to go to Tenwek, move on it,” he encourages. “I have been humbled to do the work and it has enriched me 100-times fold. I would never trade my mission experiences for all the gold in the world.”

Learn more about a short-term medical mission trip to Tenwek HERE

Make a gift to support the dental clinic at Tenwek