God’s Perfect Timing Means Lifesaving Procedure for Young Tenwek Patient

Amos and his father

Despite critical injuries sustained after falling from a truck, seventeen-year-old Amos had a chance at survival. His path to healing was a life-saving technique known as ECMO. But there were no reports of the procedure being available in Kenya.

Doctors at Tenwek’s Casualty Department had already inserted a chest tube into his left lung. More was needed to save his life though, after the major bronchial tubes in his right lung ruptured. Amos was rushed into the operating room, where a team led by Dr. Arega Fekadu Leta, a graduate of Tenwek’s Cardiothoracic Fellowship program, removed two-thirds of Amos’ badly injured right lung and repaired the leaks in his airways.

 

But the remaining upper lobes of both lungs were too damaged to sufficiently facilitate breathing. As the surgical team watched Amos’ oxygen level plummet, it became clear that Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) was his only chance at survival. Fairly common in tertiary care facilities in the United States, ECMO is essentially a temporary substitute for failing lungs.

By God’s providence, Dr. Hale Wills, a visiting pediatric surgeon with expertise in ECMO, was in the operating room that morning. So was long-term missionary Bob Groom, a perfusionist and ECMO specialist who had recently brought to Tenwek the components needed to build an ECMO circuit. After a rapid assessment of Amos’ situation and a pause for prayer, the surgical team began the venovenous ECMO procedure. Blood was withdrawn from Amos’ femoral vein and pumped through an artificial lung for oxygenation and carbon dioxide removal. The oxygen-rich blood was then returned downstream into his circulatory system near the heart.

Almost immediately, Amos’ blood oxygen levels returned to normal levels and the high blood lactate level caused by the period of low oxygen was corrected. The ventilator settings were adjusted to reduce the strain on his damaged lungs. After 91 long hours of support, Amos’ recovered lungs were gradually allowed to resume their life sustaining respiratory function. Within a few days, the breathing tube was removed from his trachea and his unassisted breathing was sufficient.

Reflecting on the experience, Bob noted, “If someone had asked me, I would have said maybe in three to five years we might have ECMO support available at Tenwek Hospital. But God had another plan and brought together everything that was needed in terms of supplies and expertise to save Amos’ life that day.”

We treat, Jesus heals – Tenwek’s mission endures. We give thanks and praise to the One who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask or think!

Impact of Tenwek’s Chaplains Comes Full Circle

Emmanuel Kirui

The last thing six-year-old Emmanuel Kirui remembers was knocking on the front door of a stranger’s house, desperate for help. When he regained consciousness, Emmanuel was fighting for his life in the Tenwek Hospital ICU, the victim of a brutal knife attack. Doctors doubted that the young boy would survive. “They said there was nothing they could do,” recalls Emmanuel. “We would have to rely on God for healing.”

During his two-month stay in the hospital, physicians worked around-the-clock to treat Emmanuel’s body. At the same time, Tenwek chaplains provided peace and comfort by visiting his bedside and praying with him often. Emmanuel made a miraculous recovery and as he progressed through school, he felt God’s call to a life of service.

 

Deeply shaped by his time as a patient at Tenwek, Emmanuel decided he wanted to become a hospital chaplain to provide the same pastoral care he had once received. He enrolled in the Tenwek Hospital College School of Chaplaincy, receiving scholarships for school fees, and graduating in 2018. Emmanuel now serves as a chaplain at the Bomet Annex, Tenwek’s outpatient clinic.

“We want to receive people who are passionate about other people and who have experienced the love of Christ themselves,” Rev. Paul Lokol, Principal of the School of Chaplaincy, notes. “Emmanuel was one of the first volunteers to say, ‘Yes, here I am. I want to go serve in Bomet.’”

And when Emmanuel tells injured or despairing patients that he knows how they feel, it comes from his heart. He is living proof that while Tenwek offers life-saving resources to treat patients, it is truly Jesus who heals.

School of Chaplaincy Update

The Tenwek College School of Chaplaincy is growing! Classes are underway; the School is preparing for its next admissions drive; and an architectural firm has been selected to develop plans and blueprints for the new campus. With funds provided by FOT, the School is recruiting at workshops in several regions of Kenya sponsored by the National Association of Christian Chaplains. This is designed to generate interest among new students, as well as with current chaplains who want to further their studies.

The School also has been approved as a Chaplaincy assessment center and qualified to administer the National Chaplaincy exams. Rev. Paul Lokol, Principal of the School, has been named an authorized trainer in the country for Chaplaincy curriculum assessment. These approvals recognize the School as a key stakeholder and effective trainer in Chaplaincy studies.

During a recent Holiness Emphasis week, Rev. David Kilel, the founder of Tenwek’s original Chaplaincy School, returned as the main speaker. “The moments were refreshing to seek the cleansing of our hearts and recommit to serve God as He has called us,” notes Rev. Lokol. “It was a blessing to hear the passion of the founding Principal and his heart for Chaplaincy studies and the great need in Kenya.”

Coming Soon: A New Year – A New Campaign!

One year ago, FOT produced “Tenwek Tomorrow,” a catalog describing the many ways FOT benefactors and friends could support God’s amazing work at Tenwek Hospital. That publication cast an exciting vision for Tenwek’s continued growth and impact – a medical and spiritual mission that is being fulfilled every day in the highlands of Kenya.

Essential infrastructure improvements are underway; new medical residents, nursing students, and School of Chaplaincy trainees are being educated; and Tenwek’s Community Health and Development initiatives are making a significant regional impact. And while much is being accomplished – much more needs to be done.

When FOT’s Board of Directors gathered in October for their annual meeting, they thoughtfully considered the strategic needs Tenwek leaders placed before them. With faith and in one accord, they agreed to launch the most ambitious fundraising campaign for FOT since its founding in 2012.

For the first time, FOT will sponsor a consolidated fundraising campaign to address specific infrastructure needs that are critically important to Tenwek Hospital. The Board believes that by supporting these needs, which have been identified by Tenwek leadership, it will significantly strengthen the hospital’s essential treating, teaching, and sending mission.

“FOT has been blessed with hundreds of generous and faithful donors and prayer partners through the years,” notes Dr. David Hoover, FOT president. “And the many visiting medical staff we have welcomed to Tenwek have made immeasurable contributions. The support demonstrated by these true ‘Friends of Tenwek’ give us all great confidence that we can meet our goal.”

Details about this new initiative will be announced early in 2022. Please pray with us as we finalize plans for this transformational campaign.

Sue Steury Remembered

Dr. Ernie Steury and Sue Steury

Sue Steury, who served at Tenwek for 38 years beside her husband, Dr. Ernie Steury, went home to be with her Lord on September 28, 2021, at the age of 89. The Steurys were missionaries through World Gospel Mission and helped grow a small medical dispensary into Tenwek Hospital. As Dr. Steury provided medical care, Sue cared for their four children and forged many bonds with the Kipsigis people, particularly mothers.

Sue served as hostess for the many visiting medical staff and students. In addition to being the station bookkeeper, she trained many Sunday school teachers. Working with Tenwek’s Community Health program, Sue also taught outreach workers how to integrate lessons about safe health practices with sharing the Gospel.

The Steurys retired from service in Kenya in 1997. That same year, Tenwek Hospital dedicated one of its multipurpose buildings in honor of Sue’s faithful service at Tenwek and to the Kipsigis people. That building was involved in a catastrophic fire in February 2018. It has been undergoing significant restoration and is being transformed into a new facility to accommodate a number current and future medical specialties and services.

“Sue Steury’s devotion to Tenwek Hospital’s mission and the lasting impact of her service are embedded at Tenwek,” notes Dr. David Hoover, president of Friends of Tenwek. “Assisting with the renovation of the Sue Steury building is one way we can honor her memory.”

COVID-19 Update – late November 2021

The following update is provided by Dr. Steve Burgert, Medical Superintendent, Tenwek Hospital

We praise God for His continued provision for our care of COVID-19 patients and staff members at Tenwek Hospital. Along with the rest of Kenya, we appear to be concluding our “4th wave” and have seen 129 deaths associated with the virus. However, we still have about 7 to 15 COVID-19 patients receiving inpatient care each day – mostly all young, unvaccinated persons.

We are grateful to have COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) available to test all hospitalized patients and inpatient visitors and have performed over 12,000 tests since May. This has seemed to reduce hospital transmission to staff or other patients. Tenwek’s COVID-19 positivity rate decreased from 7.0% in September to 2.9% in October. Approximately 80% of Tenwek Hospital staff are fully vaccinated.

Currently we are focusing on providing vaccinations via Tenwek Community Health and Development; less than 5% of Kenyans are vaccinated. To date, over 2,700 vaccines have been administered by Tenwek Hospital. We use whichever COVID-19 vaccination is available in Kenya via the World Health Organization’s COVAX program.

Over the past year, several waves of COVID-19 patients challenged our courageous staff and pushed our resources to the limit as we provided emergency and specialty care to those who needed it most. The impacts of COVID-19 will be felt well into 2022. Thanks to FOT for generous donations for equipment early during the pandemic, which greatly expanded oxygen concentrating capacity needed to care for our COVID-19 patients.

Prayers of Praise & Thanksgiving

٠ That Tenwek Hospital staff members have not had serious, long-term COVID-19 illnesses.
٠ That even during the pandemic, Tenwek Hospital has continued to function well overall in providing care to God’s glory.

Prayers of Petition

٠ That Kenyan adults will accept the value of COVID-19 vaccinations and not be misled in thinking they are not needed or
are “just for children.”
٠ That there will be adequate supplies of 1st and 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccines in Kenya.
٠ That Tenwek’s staff members will continue to be safe from serious COVID-19 illnesses.
٠ That Tenwek’s counselors will continue to be able to provide emotional and spiritual support for patients, families, and staff

We are so very grateful to everyone partnering with us through Friends of Tenwek in prayer and financial support.

New HMIS Launching in Early 2022!

Installation of Tenwek Hospital’s new Health Management Information System (HMIS) is nearing completion! This ambitious project will provide more efficient delivery of patient care while streamlining financial processes to maximize the hospital’s ability to serve patients who cannot afford their treatment.

Four new servers, 42 Terabytes of storage capacity, and fiber optic cables have been installed.

Tenwek’s IT team is working closely with vendors and hospital staff to customize and integrate the new HMIS which includes both patient care and operations components. In recent months, the IT team has solicited input from each department about the customized needs of each specialty. The team hopes to officially go live with the new system in early 2022. FOT has invested over $450,000 in the new system.

Thank you, FOT Donors, for your support of this essential project!

Urgent Appeal: Sue Steury Building

Tenwek Hospital continually strives to manage its infrastructure demands in the most effective way possible. This often creates a “domino” effect as medical units and services are relocated and facilities are renovated or constructed for maximum benefit.

We have just been advised that the Sue Steury Building must be ready to accommodate the COVID-19 Holding Area and Care Unit (CHACU) no later than March 31, 2022 – so that construction for the new Accident & Emergency Centre (where the CHACU is currently located) can begin immediately.

Tenwek was previously awarded a $500,000 USAID grant for the Accident & Emergency Centre project through the American Schools and Hospital Abroad (ASHA) program. However, if construction on the new facility is not completed within the grant’s specified time frame, Tenwek must forfeit the funds. The deadline, which was previously extended due to the pandemic, will not be waived again. So relocating the CHACU to the Steury Building is an urgent priority.

FOT has been asked to provide $200,000 before the year ends to ensure that the Sue Steury Building will be completed by January 31, 2022. This will ensure the timely move of the CHACU and allow construction for the Accident & Emergency Centre to begin before the funding deadline. We are accelerating a request for support so that Tenwek will not forfeit the grant funds. Please consider a year-end gift to help meet this urgent need.

You can make gift using this secure, online form.

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.