361-bed Christian Mission Hospital
Hospital staff: 800+
Births/year: approx. 3,000
Hospital-wide HMIS and radiology PACS system
Full-time missionary staff includes physicians in:
General and Orthopedic Surgery
The Role of Physical Therapy at Tenwek Hospital
The Physiotherapy Clinic meets weekdays and weekends at Tenwek to care for a large number of outpatients and hospital inpatients. These include orthopedic post-operative patients and others presenting with a wide variety of musculoskeletal, medical and neurological conditions. Children with disabilities and special needs are seen in a Special Needs Clinic (SNC) which meets regularly. Here, children from birth to age 18 can receive proper identification, assessment, and management of their disability at the SNC so that they can have better access to education, their community, and a better quality of life.
The Physiotherapists treat pediatric and adult inpatients with a variety of post-operative conditions and a wide range of Medical, Orthopedic and Neurologic problems as well as wound care patients.
The Physiotherapy department is led by Physiotherapist Solomon Rop and has a number of additional staff providing a variety of PT services including some prosthetic work. Staff work well together and are very supportive and helpful to PT volunteers who come to serve at Tenwek Hospital. They are well trained and provide effective PT care. They are also very open to learning from PT volunteers. Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology volunteers are welcome and very valuable at Tenwek as there are no OT’s or SLP’s on the Tenwek Hospital staff at this time.
Since Physiotherapy is primarily a hands-on service, there is limited PT equipment available or needed. However, PT supplies like exercise bands, splinting supplies, and developmental tools and games for children being seen in the Special Needs Clinic are always welcome and put to good use.
A Day in the Life of a PT at Tenwek
The day begins with Orthopedic Teaching rounds on the Ortho unit. These rounds generally start at 0700, but PTs who attend may show up at any time during the teaching rounds. Attendance at these rounds is optional for PT volunteers, but is very helpful in identifying at least the orthopedic inpatients who may need PT care that day. These are followed by walking rounds when the group, including PT director Solomon Rop, make rounds on all the Ortho patients in house on the Ortho, Male and Female Surgical, Pediatric and Wound Wards.
PTs may then stay in the hospital, making therapy visits to patients on the inpatient units or may go to the Physiotherapy clinic where dozens of patient may already be queued up to be seen by a doctor or PT. Generally there is an opportunity to pray with Solomon before the day of patient care in the Physiotherapy clinic begins.
Patient care in the clinic or on the hospital wards continues until 1300 with a mid-morning break around 1030 for Chi (tea) time. Tea can be enjoyed on one of the hospital wards or with the Physiotherapy staff in the department. Lunch generally lasts from 1300-1400 or so. Physiotherapy volunteers may have lunch in the visitor housing dining room or may have been invited for lunch with one of the missionaries at Tenwek. The workday general ends at about 1630.
In addition to providing Physiotherapy care for patients there is an opportunity to pray with patients and their families. Staff devotions occur Wednesday mornings, from 0800-0900. On a rare occasion, a visiting PT might be asked to provide the devotion if they wish to do so. There also are opportunities to get to know and develop relationships with other volunteer staff at Tenwek in a variety of specialties.
Weekend work is optional and if a PT volunteer chooses to take the weekend off, there is the opportunity to explore the local community, hike, rest, or engage in other activity. Sunday mornings there is a church service in a large meeting room on the Tenwek Hospital campus. Church is generally from 0900 until perhaps after 1100.
Staff Interactions at Tenwek
PTs at Tenwek Hospital work closely with other staff including nursing, respiratory therapy and medical. Orthopedic physicians are available in the Physiotherapy Clinic for consultation and other physicians are available in the hospital for consultation as well. PT volunteers staying in the Tenwek Hospital visitors housing have opportunity to interact with other volunteer medical professionals who are staying there as well. While many Kenyan patients are English speakers, some speak only Swahili or Massi. There is generally someone – another patient, a member of the staff, or even a visitor – available to interpret so communication with patients is rarely an issue.
Advances in Prosthetics at Tenwek
Due to trauma and other causes, there are a tremendous number of patients in the Tenwek referral area that are in need of a new limb. Tenwek Orthopedic Surgery does an average of three amputations per week, mainly related to trauma. Thanks to efforts by USA prosthetists Tanner Claridge and Allen Dolberry, a major effort is underway to revitalize the Tenwek prosthetics lab and provide support and training for Tenwek’s prosthetic staff. These efforts will result in making prostheses available to more patients whose lives can be transformed by a new limb.
Work also is underway to create a collaboration between Tenwek and the organization Hope to Walk, which may result in much more affordable prosthesis becoming available to amputees within the community and perhaps to patients throughout East Africa.
Space in the Physio department is increasingly limited as the orthopedic service grows and the patient volume increases. There is hope for additional space soon. Additional staff is always appreciated, as in PT departments in the US. Volunteers are welcome and hopefully the number of volunteers serving at Tenwek will grow. Because of the nature of patients seen, equipment is not a big need at this time, but PT supplies like exercise bands, splinting materials and reference books/materials are always appreciated.