An excerpt from the blog of Dr. Jennifer Myhre, Pediatrician at Kijabe Hospital
I had the joy yesterday of introducing a miracle mother to her miracle twin girls. Mama W had come into our maternal-and-child health clinic on Friday nearing the last month of her difficult and miraculously precious pregnancy. But everything had gone wrong. She was barely conscious, with severe hypertension. By the time Scott rushed her into the operating room it was not clear if anyone, she or her babies, could be saved. He began the surgery as another missionary anesthetist struggled expertly to revive her. As Scott cut, he saw that she was hardly bleeding at all. Which was because her heart had stopped beating and the team was doing CPR. Scott said he had never done surgery during CPR before, but he got those baby girls out fast.
Our team revived them, and though they needed a big of oxygen and care they are both healthy, just a bit small. Meanwhile the mother’s heart restarted, and she went to the ICU with little hope of recovery. We took care of the twin girls in the nursery, snuggled into our twin cot, crying and being fed by nurses. The family was too focused on the potential loss of their mother to help much. But by Tuesday she had moved into the High Dependency Unit, sitting up, talking, and looking 100% better.
After rounds that day Scott mentioned that she had not yet even seen the babies she nearly died for, so a nurse and I carried them up to her bed. She named them Blessing and Favor, and together we prayed a thanksgiving prayer. Again, this is one of the only places in Africa, let alone Kenya, where the threesome could have emerged alive. And the effort took dozens of people doing their jobs, from the clinic to the theatre staff, anesthesia, medicine and OB, paediatrics, nursing, call coverage, biomed for equipment, and on and on.
Beatrice is a precious baby girl who was born not only prematurely but also with a blocked intestine, a place where the gut had failed to form. She was transferred to Kijabe Hospital where she had emergency surgery, weeks of intravenous feeding, percolating in an incubator, and fighting infection, on the verge of survival. At last she was strong enough to be fully corrected surgically and begin to breast-feed.
Last week (March 2014) she went home with a prognosis for a long and normal life. The odds of her survival in Kenya being born 2 months early would have been 1 in 4 most places. Add to that her surgical emergency, and it probably goes up to 1 in 100 chances of survival. So it was a day of rejoicing when she was ready for discharge. Her family was able to raise about $350, but her total bill was about $2,500. Even with a subsidy from the Bethany Kids surgical fund, she was still left with about $1000 in unpaid bills. This story helps communicate the critical need for the Kijabe Hospital “Needy Children’s Fund.”
Barriers to Healthcare in Kenya?
1. Poor access to health care resources:
- Poor Infrastructure and huge distances to referral hospitals, all in Nairobi.
- Almost half of Kenya’s population lives below the poverty line (US$2/day).
- Government spending on healthcare as % of total government expenditure was 4.5% in 2011 (WHO).
- The health sector relies on outside sources of funding from private organizations, non-governmental organizations and faith-based organizations.
2. High cost of healthcare:
- Individuals currently carry the highest burden of healthcare costs.
- Most of Kenya’s workforce work in the informal economy and therefore do not have health insurance.
- Referral hospitals are located in Nairobi, which is a huge distance from most of the rural areas in Kenya.
3. Lack of trained physicians / surgeons per capita:
- Kenya faces a significant shortage of physicians, with only 4,500 in the entire country, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Whereas the United States counts on 26 physicians per 10,000 people, Kenya has just one doctor per 10,000 residents, a ratio that is below average for the Africa region.
- Few hospitals have the necessary physical and human resources available to offer high-quality training programs.
- Kenya has one of the highest net emigration rates for doctors, in the world.
4. Lack of safe anesthesia:
- Lack of oxygen, intra-operative monitoring sterilization, anesthesia equipment, ventilation.
- Lack of mid-level staff to administer anesthesia. (In lower income countries, there is <1 anesthesia provider for 100,000 people compared to 1 anesthesia provider for 400 people in the U.S.)
How AIC Kijabe Hospital is Responding?
Kijabe Hospital’s mission is to glorify God through the provision of compassionate health care, excellent medical training and spiritual ministry in Jesus Christ. It continuously strives to provide excellent healthcare to the most vulnerable patients. Kijabe Hospital has a one hundred year history of synergy between dedicated Kenyan staff and missionary expatriate volunteers. The hospital has embraced a financially sustainable model, and has always focused on providing high quality care and education of Kenyan medical professionals.
- Located outside of Nairobi, leading to easier access and lower living expenses.
- Patient fees are kept very low, even by African standards, but still cover approximately two-thirds of all operating costs. The remainder of operating costs, as well as capital expenses, is provided by donations from within Kenya and across the globe.
- Established a Resource Mobilization (RM) Department to raise profile of hospital and increase global communication.
- Actively seeking external funding both nationally and internationally, through proposal writing and fundraising initiatives.
- Partnerships with physicians / corporations / non-profits in the west to acquire medical equipment.
- Partnership with Watsi.org, which is an organization that uses crowd-funding principles to raise money for surgeries, which vulnerable patients cannot afford.
- Partnership with PAACS, which is a rural surgical training program. Residents are bonded to rural hospitals for one year of service for each year of training. Accredited by the College Of Surgeons of East, Central, and Southern Africa.
- Retention Incentives for consultant doctors.
- Partnerships with Mission sending organizations to bring fully-supported and experienced consultants here to teach.
- Missionary staff make up almost 9% of what the hospital counts as “revenue,” and these individuals typically raise their support / salaries in their home country before arriving in Kenya, thus allowing for the subsidization of healthcare costs at the hospital.
- Subsidization of healthcare costs for the most vulnerable patients, through the following funds: Needy Children’s Fund, Orthopedic Vulnerable Patient Fund, Needy Diabetic Children’s Fund, and the General Needy Fund.
- Partnerships with US based universities to facilitate visiting academia / residents / researchers to Kijabe.
- First ever nurse anesthesia training program offered at Kijabe Hospital with future plans to implement this same training in Western Kenya under the supervision of Kijabe Hospital.
How does the “Needy Children’s Fund” work?
The “Needy Children’s Fund” was established years ago as a way to sponsor care for children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford it, a way to keep Kijabe Hospital running when the excellent healthcare provided would be otherwise uncompensated. Kijabe Hospital is a church hospital that has to pay laboratory technicians, round-the-clock expert nurses, records clerks, kitchen cooks and maintenance personnel, amongst many others. It has to buy expensive antibiotics, and generate oxygen and electricity. Saving a baby like Beatrice costs money. It costs only a small fraction of what it would cost in many other countries. About half of the physician staff is missionaries who subsidize this care by subtracting the need for the hospital to pay their salaries. But paying the Kenyan staff and maintaining the enormous physical plant and providing the equipment and medicine require huge amounts of funds.
Last year (2013), God provided US$40,000 and the hospital spent every penny helping over 100 needy kids. In 2014 already, the fund has received and disbursed over $4,000. It is exciting to see a family right here in Kenya hand over an envelope of cash that exactly covered the bill for a young twin with malnutrition and a severe injury, or a church from Tennessee write and send just the right amount that Beatrice needed.
The hospital’s chaplains and finance office work with the physicians to identify the patients who are truly in need. The money flows in and out in pretty divinely matched proportions.
This is Mary, who has spent 33 days in the ICU. She has Guillan-Barre syndrome, a temporary paralysis that would result in death in most places in Kenya. But if we can support her breathing for a month or two, she should fully recover. She got a tracheostomy two weeks into her course, and just yesterday she came off the ventilator to breathe on her own for the first time in a month. She’s starting to wiggle her shoulders a bit more. She still has weeks to go before she can leave, and months before she can walk and run and play. All that care will bring a hefty bill that her mother will need help to pay.
How You Can Help?
- Please help us spread the word about our “Needy Children’s Fund,” via word of mouth, email, social media, etc.
- Consider approaching your church, friends, and local businesses to help fundraise for these needy patients.
- Organize a walk / run / bake sale and raise money for the “Needy Children’s Fund.”
- Watch and share the following video about the incredible ministry at this hospital: http://kijabehospital.org/?page_id=727, and learn how your donation will be put to use!
- Consider making a personal financial donation towards this fund:
Donations can be made via pay-pal on the hospital website:
Remember to describe your donation with the code: NCF1
- Pay-pal takes up to 3.5% from each donation for administrative costs.
- The hospital takes 0%.
- All money donated via pay-pal goes directly towards that specific piece fund and will not be used for any other purpose.
- You will be contacted immediately on receipt of payment, by both pay-pal and Kijabe Hospital.
- All donations are tax deductible (within the US).
- You will be privy to all up-dates and communication with regards to your donation – all questions are welcome.
- You can be guaranteed that your contribution to this Needy Children’s Fund will have a huge impact on the hundreds of vulnerable patients that walk through the doors of this hospital.
For questions or more information, please contact
Ann Mara (Resource Mobilization Department) at: