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

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.

 

January COVID-19 Update

The Republic of Kenya has now recorded nearly 97,000 COVID-19 positive test results, with over 1,600 fatalities. To date, the total number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed at Tenwek has reached 181. Twenty patients have died. Of the 39 staff members who have contracted the virus, all have recovered or are recovering, with most already able to return to work. Fifteen patients are currently receiving care in the 21-bed dedicated COVID Holding Area & Care Unit (CHACU), with some awaiting test results. Tenwek also has been able to conduct COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Testing for over 90 patients. This has permitted more prompt patient care planning.

The 21-bed CHACU has been fully occupied at times, with the Lower Holding Area also being used for convalescing patients. Despite success with home-based care, Tenwek leaders expect the number of cases requiring hospitalization to continue for some time. Please continue to pray for Tenwek’s patients and staff, and for their families. 

Staffing the CHACU requires a team of more than 35 people, which includes nurses, medical officers, clinical officers, housekeepers and other ancillary positions. This emergency has placed a significant strain on the hospital’s contingency resources. FOT’s Board of Directors has pledged to provide $60,000 over the next few months in support of staffing needs in the COVID-dedicated unit.

If you would like to make a gift in support of this urgent need at Tenwek, please use the button below to open a secure online form.

HMIS System Upgrade Will Improve Patient Care and Maximize Revenue

In 2013, with support from FOT, Tenwek introduced its first Health Management Information System (HMIS). This massive project created integrated electronic patient records; streamlined patient accounting; improved payroll processing and personnel records; and enhanced the hospital’s ability to monitor, assess, and forecast its financial information. As a result, Tenwek’s patient care and administrative operations were significantly improved.

Tenwek’s medical staff appreciates the opportunities provided by electronic patient medical records and administrators value the financial insights the integrated HMIS has provided. They are eager to implement an update that will further enhance care and improve processes.

The time and expense invested in building a network, installing workstations and training Tenwek staff to handle a computerized process laid the groundwork for future upgrades – and the future is now!

Tenwek is embarking on a new business model that will enable hospital administrators to conduct an accurate assessment of the profit and loss components of its medical services with analysis by cost-centers. Recognizing that “with no margin, there is no mission,” the new IT DOSE clinical system, in combination with Kinetics financial package, will provide more efficient delivery of patient care as well as clarity on how to maximize the hospital’s opportunities for revenue in order to cover services for needy patients.

The new HMIS is an essential element of Tenwek’s tomorrow. It will lay the groundwork for continued hospital growth and help build a more sustainable future.

Because this is a critical need – and can be effectively addressed even in the midst of the pandemic – the FOT Board is making it an immediate priority to raise $250,000 – approximately one-half of the system’s cost – as soon as possible. To make a gift in support of this critical initiative, please use the button below to access a secure, online form.

December COVID-19 Update

The Republic of Kenya has now recorded over 88,000 COVID-19 positive test results, with over 1,500 fatalities. To date, the total number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed at Tenwek has reached 171. Twenty patients have died and 38 staff members have contracted the virus. Eighteen patients are currently receiving care in the 21-bed dedicated COVID Holding Area & Care Unit (CHACU), with some awaiting test results.

The 21-bed CHACU has been fully occupied at times, with the Lower Holding Area also being used for convalescing patients. Despite success with home-based care, Tenwek leaders expect the surge of cases requiring hospitalization to continue for some time. Please continue to pray for Tenwek’s patients and staff, and for their families. 

Staffing the CHACU requires a team of more than 35 people, which includes nurses, medical officers, clinical officers, housekeepers and other ancillary positions. This emergency has placed a significant strain on the hospital’s contingency resources.
FOT’s Board of Directors has pledged to provide $60,000 over the next three months in support of staffing needs in the COVID-dedicated unit.

If you would like to make a gift in support of this urgent need at Tenwek, please use the button below to open a secure online form.