Special Needs Clinic
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
In July of 2016, The Special Needs Clinic (SNC) at Tenwek Hospital ofﬁcially began its ministry for children with disabilities. Children from birth to age 18 can now receive proper identiﬁcation, assessment, and management of various disabilities at the SNC. This significantly improves access to education, their community, and a better quality of life.
This clinic was the dream of Solomon Rop, PT. His vision to create a compassionate ministry for the identiﬁcation and treatment of disabled children was slowly birthed over a several years. Through Solomon’s work in both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy at Tenwek, God began to show him the needs of the vastly underserved disabled community in Kenya. He began to receive referrals from area families. With support from missionaries, Amy and Woody Rule, Read and Suzie Vaughan, and Bill and Penny Hage, children were identiﬁed to receive therapy services as well as equipment and mobility devices.
The Special Needs Clinic is run cooperatively by the hospital’s Physiotherapy and Orthopedic Surgery Departments and operates every Friday in the hospital’s Physiotherapy Department. The SNC offers low- cost to no-cost therapy services and equipment.
Solomon begins with physical assessment, physical therapy, serial casting, assessment and measuring for assistive devices, mobility training, and/or developmental treatment. If there are medical needs, the orthopedic staff is consulted during their visit and the appropriate referrals for medical care are made. Solomon treats up to 30 children in the Friday morning clinic, and he spends Friday afternoons making home visits and delivering wheelchairs and other devices in the community through his wheelchair ministry.
The SNC has registered and treated over 300 children and over 200 wheelchairs and other specialty seating devices have been given. Recognizing how important it is for children to gain the social and educational beneﬁts of attending school, the SNC also works in partnership with Bomet County’s Ministries of Education and Social Services, the Africa Gospel Church, and local schools to ensure that children with disabilities can access appropriate school programs.
The Challenge of Disability in Kenya
There are over 7,000 people living with disabilities in Bomet County alone. Having a child with a disability in Kenya is an enormous emotional, physical, and ﬁnancial burden. Many children with disabilities live in isolation, having no access to basic medical care, education, or special equipment and devices. Family members are forced to stay home to care for their disabled child and are unable to work; this perpetuates the cycle of poverty.
Children served in the SNC have a variety of diagnoses including spina biﬁda, cerebral palsy, club foot, cleft palate, and numerous other physical and developmental disabilities. The cost of providing therapy services and much needed equipment is very often much more than families can afford, which is partly the reason so many children with disabilities are underserved. Getting therapy supplies and mobility equipment in Kenya is very challenging and costly. Most specialty seating and mobility devices are transported four hours from Nairobi.
The Faith Fund for Special Needs
To help offset the ﬁnancial burden on families, The Faith Fund for Special Needs was established through Friends of Tenwek in 2016. This fund was created in the name of Faith, a young girl with spina biﬁda who was one of the ﬁrst recipients of care through the clinic.
The Faith Fund allocates US funds and resources directly to Tenwek for the Special Needs Clinic. This fund pays for general therapy assessment and treatment, as well as developmental devices, wheelchairs, braces, prosthesis, crutches, and special seating.
Penny and Bill Hage have stepped forward as FOT Champions for the Special Needs Clinic and are engaged in fundraising for The Faith Fund. Penny is a pediatric occupational therapist in Raleigh, NC. She and her husband, Dr. Bill Hage, an orthopedic surgeon, ﬁrst volunteered at Tenwek in February 2015.
Advances in prosthetics for special needs patients
There are many children in the Tenwek referral region that are in need of prostheses due to limb loss from trauma and a host of other conditions. 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 children whose lives can be transformed by a new limb. This picture shows the beaming smiles and joy of four patients from the Bomet Children’s Home who all received their new limbs on the same day. Just moments later they were running through the grass for the first time!