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!