Dan, Heather, Jeremiah, Tory, Emma, Tye, Claire, Levi, Josie, Jane and Ethan

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Technology in Rural Kenya

Jeremiah and his Dad in front of the newly arrived C-ARM crate - weighing in at nearly a ton.  Jeremiah is now officially a few millimeters taller than me (and a full 20 lbs heavier).  I fear that soon, I will no longer be able to "take him."

Wheeling the C-ARM into operating room #4 for the "first case," a 40 year old man with a displaced femoral neck fracture that Dr. Rowe fixed with cannulated screws. 

Benard, our excellent IT guy at Tenwek after just setting up the new computer in our orthopedic threatre room.  I spend part of my weekend on call installing the wall-mount system. 

The Galat family is currently in an extended season of visits from friends and family from the States, and we are loving it!  Just recently, Sonny Sazdanof (a chiropractor from Arizona) and his wife Esther, visited for two weeks along with Heather’s parents, Steve and Jill Kinkel.  During the usual tour of the hospital we give to visitors when they first arrive at Tenwek, as I was showing Sonny our facilities, he turned to me and said, “I had no idea.”
Like Sonny, I am sure most people imagine the practice of orthopedic surgery at a mission hospital in rural Kenya as extremely rudimentary, with inadequate facilities and equipment, and, at best, outdated methods of fracture care.  And although we are still not at the level of the typical hospital in the U.S., our technology continues to increase in way that surprises even me.
When I returned to Kenya a year ago, our PACS (computerized x-ray) system was in place and I was overjoyed at the thought of never having to search for a hard-copy x-ray again.  And now, through the donation of a faithful supporter and a company in California, we even have wall-mounted computers displaying digital x-rays in our orthopedic operating rooms (it feels a little like I am back at Mayo!).  Additionally, we just received our newly donated C-ARM which will allow us to perform cases requiring intraoperative imaging simultaneously.  An EMR (electronic medical record) system is even in the works for the very near future.
The reality is, however, that we are still a mission hospital in rural Kenya, struggling to keep adequate supplies to care for the relentless needs that present to our doors daily.  The orthopedic service alone currently has over 40 patients, and in going through the list tonight, we have 17 in the queue needing urgent surgery.  Although we may have the technology, sometimes we lack the trauma implants to even do the work.   But we continue to trust God to provide for all our needs, as He knows them even better than I do.  Just recently, I received an email from a supporter in the States saying that he had received a donation of 5 pallets (!) of orthopedic nails (the same nails we use regularly here at Tenwek for femur and tibia fractures) and he wanted to give them all to us!   
The underlying truth that keeps us persevering is the fact that Tenwek is God’s work…a not-so-small mission hospital in rural Kenya that He is using to glorify His Name.  And that is our underlying purpose for being here…to tell every one of the Hope and Healing that they can have in Jesus’ name.  Thank you for partnering with us!  We appreciate your prayers and support! 

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