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Shem Tangus Appointed CEO of Tenwek Hospital

Shem Tangus, Tenwek CEO with Kyle McCarter, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya.

Shem Tangus has been appointed Chief Executive Officer at Tenwek Hospital, effective February 1, 2021. He had been serving as the interim CEO since the end of 2019, following service as the hospital’s finance officer.

Mr. Tangus’s return to Tenwek is a homecoming. “My parents worked at Tenwek Hospital,” he explains. “My mother was a hospital chaplain for many years. I grew up at Tenwek – for me Tenwek is home.”

With a university degree in accounting, Mr. Tangus was recruited for the finance position at Tenwek and was excited by the opportunity to help the hospital navigate through operational challenges that result when many patients are unable to pay for their care. “I saw that God had prepared me in terms of my knowledge, expertise, and exposure to Tenwek.”

One of his first initiatives was to encourage enrollment in Kenya’s national health insurance plan, which pays a portion of patients’ medical expenses. This has raised the number of Tenwek patients covered by insurance from 40% to 75%. He also implemented an electronic payment system that eliminates clerical errors, instills confidence in patients, and ensures the hospital is paid promptly.

Even with improved revenue, however, the hospital collects only about 20% of what it is owed monthly. This makes the support provided by Friends of Tenwek both essential and rare.

“Donor support for a hospital is very unique,” says Mr. Tangus. “And it frees us to continue serving poor patients. Without our partnership with FOT we would not be able to do some of the things we are doing today.”

Mr. Tangus takes the leadership helm at a critical time. Construction for the Cardiothoracic Centre is about to begin; the installation of a comprehensive Health Management Information System is underway; new residencies in OBGYN and Neurosurgery are launching; recruitment for Kenyan consulting physicians in Obstetrics, Orthopedics, and Radiology has started; and the School of Chaplaincy awaits approval for its new curriculum. In the midst of addressing these strategic objectives, the hospital has been treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients.

The faith Mr. Tangus grew up with guides his life as he strives to match Tenwek’s excellence in health care with its support operations. His parents are thrilled with his relocation to Bomet. His wife, Faith, a medical resident, is grateful to transfer her internship to the hospital. And their two children will grow up, as he did, calling Tenwek home.