On the evening of February 9, 2018, a fast-spreading fire destroyed a multi-purpose building at Tenwek Hospital. By God’s grace, the patients sleeping in the building’s Wound Ward were safely evacuated while Tenwek staff and community members heroically fought and contained the blaze. There were no serious injuries but the building was destroyed and all of the ancillary services housed in the building were displaced.
FOT quickly sprang into action, raising $65,000 to support immediate needs within days of sending an email appeal. That support has since grown to more than $231,000, representing gifts from 214 donors worldwide. Included in these gifts was some $26,000 donated by 29 South Korean medical students and professors from Yonsei University Health System, many of whom had served at Tenwek Hospital. As one student who is now a doctor reported, “My experience at Tenwek was precious and taught me what kind of doctor I should be. The role of doctors is to treat physical problems, of course. I learned that doctors should be able to not only treat physical illnesses but also comfort and help with spiritual illnesses. And I have been thinking intensively about how to become such a doctor since my time at Tenwek. I have decided to pray with my patients when I enter my hospital clerkship in Korea.”
“True friends” of Tenwek in a time of need
Following the fire, Tenwek Hospital leaders developed a plan to maintain essential services that were displaced by the fire and promptly begin recovery efforts. The infusion of FOT’s “first responder” funds have helped administrators immediately and efficiently manage the crisis and thoughtfully assess and address both temporary and long-term needs.
FOT funds have enabled the hospital to maintain key services that were disrupted by the fire, including operations for patient food services, sterilization, and laundry. Other operations related to statistics, cancer registry, research coordination, social work, and visiting staff have been relocated and restored. (See “Before and After” photos at the end of this post.)
Specifically, FOT funds are being used to rebuild the roof of the burned building and repair those on adjacent structures that sustained damage, relocate displaced offices, repair steam pipes, rewire sterile supply rooms, clear rubble, screed and waterproof facilities, and establish a temporary kitchen to serve patients. The only service that has not been restored yet is the canteen/restaurant that was used by staff and visitors.
The rebuilding effort will focus on locating support services in areas that are separate from patient care wards. The fire prompted a thorough review of the hospital’s emergency plans and administrators are evaluating how to install a fire loop hydrant system that would improve safety throughout the hospital campus.
Even in the midst of the fire and its continuing impact, Tenwek CEO Mr. Geoffrey Langat has seen God’s hand at work. “I saw some people kneeling and praying while others did everything they could to keep the fire from spreading,” he recalls. “It was a sign of great community. People see this place as a gift God has given us and that we must protect. I learned that there are friends of this place that respond. It could have been a disaster, but it was a blessing.”
Mr. Langat continues, “I see God’s blessing to Tenwek through FOT. We have walked a long way together and have accomplished a lot. And in this moment they came through. They are true friends and true partners who are there in times of need. I thank God for them from my heart.”
Thank you to everyone who made a donation to the fire recovery fund for Tenwek Hospital!
Your generosity is making a difference!
The following “Before and After” photos were provided by Dr. Stephen Burgert, Medical Superintendent, Tenwek Hospital
Roofing By Sterilization