A Special Message About COVID-19 from FOT President David Hoover, M.D.

Dear Friend of Tenwek,
In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are experiencing a Kairos moment – a singular and opportune time to decide and act in ways that fulfill the purposes of God. Surrounded by a heartbreaking loss of human life and economic turbulence worldwide, God’s people choose to declare, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

In that spirit, FOT’s Board of Directors – most of whom are front-line physicians – has decided to act without delay to provide Tenwek Hospital with the critical resources it needs to be a beacon of hope and healing for the over one million people living in the greater South Rift region.

As of this writing, while more than 50 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Kenya, none have been diagnosed in Tenwek Hospital’s Bomet County. However, given the pace at which the virus is spreading worldwide, some epidemiology models have estimated that Bomet County eventually could see over 300 COVID-19 new admissions per day, with about 85 of those patients needing ICU resources each day.

In recent weeks, Tenwek has moved swiftly to prepare for this new potential challenge. (You can read more about their actions here.) The costs to prepare the dedicated COVID-19 holding and care units and secure the needed Personal Protective Equipment far exceed the hospital’s budget resources. The most significant expense is related to acquiring and installing a new Oxygen Generator that will double the existing capacity of oxygen supply.

FOT has committed to raise $250,000 USD to support Tenwek’s COVID-19 response. In faith, we are advancing $110,000 in funds for the immediate purchase of the one large Oxygen Generator still currently available in Kenya.

This will urgently assist in COVID-19 patient care and it will remain as a needed provision for Tenwek’s service for years to come. In this Kairos moment, please consider a gift that will bless, encourage, and equip the Tenwek Hospital community as they face an unprecedented challenge.

Over the years, we have watched with awe and gratitude as faithful Friends of Tenwek generously support the urgent needs at Tenwek Hospital. At a time when so many are in need worldwide, we deeply appreciate your prayers and any gift you are able to make.

With gratitude,
J. David Hoover, M.D.
President, Friends of Tenwek

Tenwek Prepares for COVID-19

Tenwek CARES. We are not Scared. We are Prepared.

That’s the message Tenwek Hospital is proclaiming to its community – within the hospital and beyond. In consultation with Bomet County health officials, Tenwek Hospital leaders:

  • Constructed a dedicated, 6-bed isolation unit in an existing building (former Mortuary Chapel)
  • Are developing a 22-bed holding and care area adjacent to the hospital’s main entrance (former Maternal Child Health)
  • Mandated health screening for all persons entering the hospital
  • Conducted specialized training for staff
  • Are seeking additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including gowns, masks, gloves, and goggles; medications; hand sanitizers; and cleaning supplies
  • Suspended all on-site classes at the College of Health Sciences and the School of Chaplaincy and launched some online medical and spiritual education and worship opportunities
  • Cancelled all elective surgeries (with 46% of patients still presenting with emergency needs)
  • Are holding soap-making workshops for local residents, providing materials and training (through the Tenwek Community Health & Development hygiene and sanitation program)
  • Plan to use 1,000 cloth face masks produced by students in the Threads of Hope program (a vocational sewing program for marginalized women) to be worn over surgical masks in an attempt to prolong the use of scarce surgical masks
  • Have Tenwek Hospital’s own Tailoring Department sewing PPE surgical gowns with hoods

In addition, medical mission visits to Tenwek have been suspended and the missionary doctors and staff at Tenwek are working without the outside professional assistance they rely on for coverage and education.

How You Can Help

  • Pray for the health and strength of Tenwek’s staff as they continue to deliver life-saving care to their patients.
  • Pray for Tenwek’s leaders to continue to plan and act with great faith, wisdom, and compassion.
  • Pray for the nursing students and chaplaincy students who have been sent home – that they will continue to learn and serve during the hiatus.
  • Pray for the health and salvation of Tenwek patients and their families.
  • Make a gift to help Tenwek acquire and install an Oxygen Generator, develop two isolation wards, and purchase PPEs, cleaning supplies, and other equipment. 

Send checks to:
1132 Greenbridge Drive
Matthews, NC 28105

We praise God that His Spirit is not bound by travel bans or temperature screening! He extends his compassion and care through His people everywhere.

Tenwek Graduation Celebrations

A Fresh Focus – An Enduring Commitment

Since 2012, FOT has been committed to developing the relationships and resources that will help Tenwek Hospital fulfill its mission. This powerful network of physicians and donors has provided vital support to a wide range of needs and initiatives at Tenwek.

To date, FOT has invested nearly $1.3 million of financial assistance to advance Tenwek’s medical and spiritual care. Fifteen medical specialty “Champions” have worked diligently to recruit their colleagues for short-term medical mission visits to Tenwek where they share their knowledge and expertise with Tenwek staff while caring for patients.

FOT’s fresh focus on supporting Tenwek’s medical and spiritual education initiatives aligns with its foundational purpose and positions FOT to continue as a valuable partner to and participant in Tenwek’s mission.

“The goals for FOT’s future fundraising projects will be to support medical and spiritual education needs as identified in partnership with Tenwek Hospital leaders.

We are committed to this work because of its profound spiritual dimension. It’s not just humanitarian work – the love of God and the redeeming hope of life in Christ is being extended to patients and families throughout Kenya and all of Africa.”

Dr. David Hoover, President, Friends of Tenwek


FOT’s New Fundraising Focus

Fundraising will support Tenwek’s medical and spiritual education initiatives

 During its recent annual meeting, the FOT Board of Directors and a number of its medical specialty “Champions” engaged in a robust discussion about what draws physicians to serve and support the mission and work of Tenwek Hospital.

FOT Board President, Dr. David Hoover, summed up the conversation this way. “As a rule, we physicians enjoy training others and passing our knowledge on to the next generation – to create a multiplying effect of education and experience.”

Tenwek provides exceptional training to the physicians, nurses, and clinical officers (physician assistants) who are enrolled in a range of educational programs offered there, including Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS) residency training in the areas of general surgery, orthopedics, cardiac surgery, and soon, OB/GYN. A significant expansion of the scope and facilities for Tenwek’s International School of Chaplaincy also is underway.

Visiting physicians add a vital dimension of training to Tenwek’s medical staff, interns, clinical officers, and nursing students as they bring their expertise and experience to short-term mission assignments arranged through World Medical Mission.

This focus on sharing medical education and clinical expertise to empower and equip the next generation of African physicians will guide FOT’s ongoing support for Tenwek Hospital. The goals for future fundraising projects will be to support medical and spiritual education needs as identified in partnership with Tenwek Hospital leaders.

 FOT will create a catalog that details the many ways this new focus on medical and spiritual education can be supported by donors. This could include, for example, sponsorships for resident’ training, housing for residents, scholarships for medical and chaplaincy students, and construction of new facilities for the School of Chaplaincy, as well as other needs that are identified.

This new focus for FOT fundraising affirms its longstanding commitment to Tenwek Hospital’s status as a Christian community with a unique medical and spiritual mission to heal, train, and send for the glory of God. “We are committed to this work because of its profound spiritual dimension,” says Dr. Hoover. “It’s not just humanitarian work – the love of God and the redeeming hope of life in Christ is being extended to patients and families throughout Kenya and all of Africa.”

Tenwek Opens Renal & Oncology Unit

New services provide much-needed care for underserved patients

 Tenwek Hospital’s ability to serve the needs of patients presenting with kidney disease and cancer was immeasurably strengthened with the September opening of a new Renal and Oncology Unit (ROU). FOT raised more than half of the $190,000 cost to renovate and equip an existing building in the first phase of a longer-term plan to house these services permanently in a dedicated facility. This support includes contracting for the provision of five dialysis machines which are scheduled to be operating on-site early next year.

According to John Spriegel, M.D., a long-time missionary doctor at Tenwek, the hospital has become an important referral hospital for much of Western Kenya, but previously was unable to treat patients needing dialysis and renal replacement therapy or chemotherapy. While these patients were referred to services in Nairobi, Dr. Spriegel acknowledges that some could not manage the travel and expense and simply went home to die. “We also know that, like many of our patients, those who come to us with renal disease and cancer need the spiritual touch of Christ’s healing ministry and not just the medicines that we have to offer.”

Rev. Elijah Bii, Director of Spiritual Ministries at Tenwek Hospital, leads the staff in prayer at the dedication of the ROU.

The new facility was renovated to provide comfort, dignity, and privacy for patients who need dialysis and chemotherapy treatments. It features examination and administration rooms for dialysis and chemotherapy, equipment for telemedicine consults, offices for clinicians, and specialized areas for water processing and the storage and preparation of chemotherapeutic agents. The medical equipment and furnishings purchased to launch this new service – including dialysis and water purification machines and the chemotherapy preparation hood – will be moved to the ROU’s permanent location when that project is completed in several years.

A detailed financial and staffing plan will ensure the ROU’s sustainability. For example, Kenya’s National Health Insurance Fund covers the cost of twice-weekly dialysis. A training program for five renal medicine staff members has been developed with colleagues at another Kenyan teaching and referral hospital and two nurses have been hired. Two clinical officers with higher diplomas in oncology care are on staff at Tenwek and the hospital’s head pharmacist has advanced training in chemotherapy medications.

Moses Tanui, a Clinical Officer/Medical Oncologist with a decade of service at Tenwek, will work in the ROU. “We are all very excited to begin this service which has never before been available here,” he explains. “We are excited for our donors’ support and now, as patients are being touched, even God will be excited with what we are doing.”

Thank you to the generous and faithful FOT donors who helped make this vital project a reality in record time!


Meet the FOT Ambassador – Janie Leland

Janie Leland was appointed the new FOT Ambassador and arrived at Tenwek in June. She serves on-site at Tenwek Hospital to help us make essential connections with U.S. physicians, welcoming visitors into the FOT family. She hosts visiting staff and families at the guest house and provides information and insights about ministry opportunities within the Tenwek community. She also gathers news and stories to keep the Friends of Tenwek informed about what’s happening at Tenwek today.

Janie and her sister Caroline

Originally from Tarboro, North Carolina, Janie graduated from the University of Texas at Austin last year with a degree in Community Education. In 1990, Janie’s parents lived and worked at Tenwek Hospital as newlyweds, then returned with their five children in 2002 for a short-term trip, so she’s especially thrilled to return to a place formative in her childhood.

Janie has loved her first months as the FOT Ambassador. “It has been a joy and delight to live and work at Tenwek Hospital. My favorite part of the job is meeting YOU – long conversations at mealtimes, spending time together volunteering at the hospital, town trips to Bomet … and the list continues! It’s been an honor and privilege to get to know some of the most amazing folks in the world. As the supporters of Tenwek Hospital, you truly are the heartbeat of FOT. Thank you for your generosity and eagerness to connect to the work of the hospital and the greater Tenwek community, because you are blessing more people than you know. Feel welcome to come join us at Tenwek – there’s always more room at the table!”

You can keep up with Janie and her Tenwek adventures on her blog: totalcutegirl.wordpress.com. We are thrilled to have Janie working at Tenwek to enhance and expand the FOT community!

Tenwek New Oncology Unit

New Oncology Unit: A Priority for Tenwek Hospital and FOT

New service will provide coordinated, comprehensive care for patients with cancer

For decades, Tenwek Hospital has been unable to meet the critical medical needs of cancer patients. This is not unusual in a nation that is still developing medical systems and solutions that can be delivered in rural and remote regions. But addressing the need for earlier detection, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment of multiple kinds of cancer has become a top priority for Tenwek Hospital leaders. The commitment to provide oncology services reflects their dedication to maintaining the hospital’s designation as a Christian teaching and referral hospital at the highest level.

John Spriegel, M.D., a long-time missionary doctor at Tenwek, knows first-hand the critical need to add a comprehensive oncology service. “While Tenwek has become a referral hospital in many medical specialties for much of Western Kenya, we are also referring out two cancer patients each day. Some of these patients can handle the travel and expense of seeking treatment in Nairobi. But most, in fact, go home and die. And, like many of our patients, those who come to us with cancer need the spiritual touch of Christ’s healing ministry and not just the medicines we that we have to offer.”

Development of a Dedicated Oncology Unit is Underway

“Tenwek’s Oncology Unit will usher in a new era of outpatient oncology care,” continues Dr. Spriegel. “It will be the only service of its kind in the region to offer coordinated cancer care that encompasses diagnosis and treatment for a range of cancers.”

The new Oncology Unit will be established in two phases. Renovations are underway in an existing building to transform it into a patient-centered, hygienic area that promotes comfort, dignity, and privacy for individuals receiving chemotherapy treatments. The building improvements include floor tiling, painting, new wiring for electrical outlets and computer stations, enhanced lighting, and additional outside doors.

When renovations are complete, the building will feature examination and administration rooms for chemotherapy, offices for clinicians, and specialized areas for processing, storing, and preparing treatments. The medical equipment and furnishings purchased to launch this new service – including a chemotherapy hood – will be moved to the Oncology Unit’s permanent location in the Steury Building when expansion and renovations there are completed in several years.

Tenwek’s financial and staffing plan will ensure the unit’s sustainability. Two clinical officers with higher diplomas in oncology care currently are on staff at Tenwek. The hospital’s head pharmacist has advanced training in chemotherapy medications. Additional oncology nursing training and consultation services are being developed with colleagues at another Kenyan teaching and referral hospital.

The cost to open the phase one version of the Oncology Unit is $182,000 USD. This includes renovation expenses, specialized treatment equipment, and furnishings.

Recognizing both the need to offer cancer care and Tenwek Hospital’s commitment to adding this critical new service, Friends of Tenwek has made the Oncology Unit one of its top fundraising priorities for 2019. FOT is committed to raise $91,000 – half of the necessary funds.

Your gift today in support of the Oncology Unit will extend life and hope to patients with cancer and ensure that Tenwek’s exceptional medical and spiritual care will be delivered in this new specialty area for years to come. You can make a gift here.


The Faith Fund for Special Needs

This fund was named for Faith, one of the first children to be treated at Tenwek’s Special Needs Clinic, which opened in 2015. Born with spina bifida, Faith spent the first seven years of her life at home crawling on her hands and knees. After evaluation at the SNC, she was fitted with special shoes and a pediatric walker and her life was transformed. Today, Faith is thriving and attending school where she has reached Grade 3 and is a stellar student. She walks with the assistance of forearm crutches and leg braces which, because of her growing body, need replacement twice a year.

Donations to the Faith fund are used to cover SNC costs, including therapy visits and adaptive equipment – expenses that the children’s families cannot afford. Last year, FOT’s more than $20,000 of support included the purchase of 34 wheelchairs suitable for rural terrain – each one representing God’s love and providing a child with the opportunity to engage life in an exciting new way.


Radiology Continues to Advance at Tenwek

New 64-Slice CT Scanner is latest enhancement

 When FOT helped Tenwek purchase and install a 4-slice Toshiba CT scanner in 2011, it was the only such diagnostic machine within a three-hour drive of the hospital – and it was the beginning of a new era of diagnostic radiology at Tenwek Hospital.

FOT’s Radiology Champion, Read Vaughan, M.D., was one of only two visiting radiologists at that time. The advent of CT scanning brought a critical need for more radiologist support. In response, Read launched a recruitment campaign that has had impressive results.

Today, Tenwek’s Radiology Department performs over 3,500 CT scans annually. Readings are done by visiting radiologists who work on-site for 30-34 weeks each year. For the remaining weeks, scans are read by 36 volunteer radiologists across the U.S. and Canada, using a cloud-based teleradiology system called Nucleus.

In addition, Read spearheaded the ART (Advancing Radiology at Tenwek) fundraising effort that raised over $400,000 to expand and remodel Tenwek’s Radiology Department and equip it with three new x-ray and four new ultrasound machines. (Learn more here.)

Most recently, the need to replace the antiquated Toshiba CT scanner and its exorbitant maintenance contract became a priority. FOT provided $50,000 towards the $350,000 purchase price and offered an interest-free loan of $150,000 to the hospital to facilitate acquisition of a new 64-slice Siemens Go Up CT scanner. It brings CT angiography and other essential capabilities to Tenwek and supports the hospital’s new services in Neuroradiology and Pediatric Surgery.

 An Immediate Life-Saver 

Peris Chebet is a 14-year-old Kenyan girl who presented at Tenwek with life threatening bleeding from her gastrointestinal track. An ultrasound showed her gallbladder full of clotted blood; an endoscopy confirmed that she was bleeding from inside her liver.

To perform the life-saving surgery Peris required, surgeons needed to know where the bleed inside her liver was originating. Prior to the installation of Tenwek’s new CT scanner, there was no way to provide this crucial information. But thanks to the new high-resolution machine, physicians were able to order a CT Angiogram of Peris’ abdomen which allowed radiologists to precisely identify a pseudoaneurysm in the right lobe of her liver.

Pediatric surgeon Michael Gainey and Tenwek surgeon Justus Lando were able to successfully block the artery and stop the bleeding. Six days later, Peris used the hand that had been extended for help from beneath her surgical drapes to wave a grateful goodbye as she went home from Tenwek. Her message to the doctors and donors who saved her: “This hand thanks you for its life!”