The orthopedic team on my final day of work, prior to leaving for our next scheduled furlough.
Encouraging a patient about to be discharged from the hospital.
Praying with a patient during morning rounds.
Dr. Kiprono and I performing a total hip replacement in a 50 year old male with bad arthritis.
Tomorrow night, the Galat family (minus Jeremiah) will be flying back to the U.S. for our scheduled furlough. As such, the last few weeks at home have been a flurry of packing, organizing, planning, and saying goodbyes to our many good friends, both American and Kenyan. Naturally, this time of transition brings with it also a wide variety of paradoxical emotions, and while a few tears have been shed by our kids, we are also encouraged by the sense that this pain of transition is not as sharp as it has been in the past.
Times of transition also bring reflection. The changes that have occurred in the orthopedic department since our first arrival to Tenwek in November 2008, are amazing. Back then, the “team” consisted of me, and a clinical officer intern who had absolutely no interest in orthopedics. In contrast, on my final working day last Thursday, the team consisted of 12 people (consultants, residents, interns, and essential visitors), all committed to compassionate orthopedic care of our patients. However, this number is continually in flux (six left the following day), and we struggle to adequately cover a service that is relentlessly growing, averaging 40-50 inpatients at any given time (47 on my last day), mostly from trauma related to road traffic accidents. During the last year, over 2000 major orthopedic surgeries have been done (including 32 total hip and knee replacements), in operating rooms that are open 24/7.
The commitment to education and training via Tenwek Orthopedics remains essential to our purpose. Dr. Kiprono Koech joined the team in 2012 as the second orthopedic consultant (and my partner). His calm demeanor, excellent surgical ability and leadership skills belie the fact that he just recently finished his residency, being years ahead of his peers. In August 2013, Dr. Will Moore, a post-resident from Samaritan’s Purse, will round out the team as our third consultant. We continue to train orthopedic residents from Moi University, and just recently added a second rotation for orthopedic residents from Kijabe hospital. And we continue training the general surgery residents and interns based at Tenwek. Plans are in the works to start our own Tenwek-based orthopedic residency, God-willing in January 2015.
But most importantly, and the reason that we continue at Tenwek, is the ongoing emphasis on spiritual ministry. In the past year, more than 30 patients have committed their lives to Jesus Christ as a direct result of the orthopedic ministry at Tenwek. On morning rounds, while hectic, we try to daily take time to pray with patients and share with them the good news of Jesus Christ. A short word of encouragement, a small prayer, or giving of a bible can make a life-changing difference, and we have seen God do significant miracles of His Grace.
In short, while there are many challenges that that we will inevitably face, the future is bright and many good things are on the horizon. We have no other choice but to trust God to continue this work that He started. Tenwek’s vision statement of “compassionate healthcare, spiritual ministry and training for service” continues and only through teamwork is this possible. Thank you for all the support of our family in so many ways: prayer, words of encouragement, financial support, short-term visits, etc. We, as a family, are honored to serve at Tenwek and God-willing, will continue for many years to come!
Please keep us in prayer as we travel back to the U.S. for this HMA (homeland ministry assignment) of 6-7 months (we hope to return shortly after the birth of our new baby, due August 10th!). Jeremiah will join us in the U.S. the end of March, after finishing this current term at RVA. Please also keep Dr. Kiprono and team in prayer as they continue the busy orthopedic work at the hospital.