Tenwek Hospital COVID-19 Update-September

So much has happened since April 2, when FOT’s President Dr. David Hoover sent out an appeal to assist Tenwek Hospital in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are extremely grateful for the prompt and very, very generous response from FOT as “our friend indeed” during our “time of need.”

CHACU Dedicaton-located in the former Maternal Child Health

Through the donations from FOT partners and others, we were able to provide care to patients in the newly remodeled 6-bed isolation unit until the remodeled 21-bed COVID-19 Holding Area & Care Unit (CHACU) was ready “just in time” in mid-July. FOT’s donation of crucial funds allowed us to purchase and install the large oxygen generator to supply oxygen to each of the 27 beds. Three of the beds in CHACU can provide ICU level care, including ventilator support.

We praise God for His provision and protection during this season. He allowed us over four months for preparation between the first case in Kenya on March 13th and Tenwek Hospital’s first case on July 22nd. As a country, Kenya’s cases of COVID-19 have increased to over 30,000 with approximately 15,000 recoveries and nearly 600 deaths.

Prepared and Not Scared

The hospital staff members (over 900 strong!) have now been educated and re-educated on COVID-19, each with the appropriate training for their department. During those four months, the Tenwek Hospital staff cared for many patients who were suspected to possibly have COVID-19. These were serious “dress rehearsals” with 96 negative tests before the first positive test at Tenwek. We learned a lot from those valuable opportunities, and we refined our protocols for COVID-19 care.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with gown produced by Tenwek Hospital tailoring, face shield constructed by Tenwek missionary families, and a purchased N95 mask.

In addition to developing Standard Operating Procedures, we learned how very important it was for us to have our five Tenwek Hospital counselors on-call 24/7 to serve staff members, patients and families.

Thus far we have diagnosed COVID-19 for 17 Tenwek Hospital patients, of which five unfortunately arrived late in their course of illness and passed away within three days of admission. All but two of the COVID-19 patients who received inpatient care at Tenwek have been discharged to home-based isolation care – including one mother with a new baby! Currently, two COVID-19 patients are being treated in-hospital, and there are no other patients in the CHACU who are awaiting COVID-19 test results. Praise God!

As of this date, Tenwek Hospital has obtained test samples for a total of 202 individuals, of which 163 were for patients and 39 were for staff members. We just received confirmation last month that after many years our Tenwek Hospital Laboratory is now ISO certified and we are considering the possibility that Tenwek Hospital could be an authorized COVID-19 testing facility. This would improve safe and efficient use of hospital resources, would improve healthcare worker availability, and would be a blessing to reduce the community spread of COVID-19 through prompt contact tracing.

We praise God that, as of today, we have no COVID-19 cases diagnosed among our Tenwek Hospital healthcare workers. Kindly join us in prayer that the Lord’s shield of protection would remain in place for our care givers to have no serious illness, physical fatigue, or emotional fatigue.

Impact of Travel Restrictions

Multiple long-term missionary physicians are away from Tenwek Hospital at this time, which unfortunately has coincided with visiting doctors not being able to come to serve at Tenwek Hospital. We are grateful that international travel has now resumed to Kenya and we are seeking responsible ways to best integrate visiting physicians into our staffing at Tenwek Hospital in a manner that minimizes risks to patients and co-workers. We also pray for favor as the expatriate Kenya Medical Licensing process has become much more expensive and complicated.

Tenwek Hospital runs the College of Health Sciences and the School of Chaplaincy. In accordance to the regulations passed to us from the Government, we have had to close these two institutions because of COVID-19 in Kenya. We recently launched e-learning to enable the students to learn even while they stay at home.

The generosity of our Friends of Tenwek partners is appreciated even more as we recognize the personal financial challenges that many individuals are facing around the globe. Thank you for standing with us…. even if we are 6 feet or thousands of miles away from one another.

Asante sana!
Thank you very much!

Dr. Steve Burgert
Medical Superintendent of Tenwek Hospital

Shem Tangus
Acting CEO of Tenwek Hospital

 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
2 Timothy 1:7