Out of Africa

Okay, back to the blog–I was unable to upload photos while in Kenya, so I posted on Facebook exclusively. Now that I am back home, I can tell the story of the past month with illustrations.

In late January, the SHIP team from LSU School of Medicine in Shreveport traveled to western Kenya to hold mobile clinics in rural villages in Bungoma and Kakamega counties. Our team was composed of faculty (Drs. Don and Amy Givler, Conway Family Medicine; and myself), four resident physicians (Dr. Nicole Jones, Pediatrics; Drs. Yemesi Adesida and Aiyasawmi Doraijan, Med/Peds; and Dr. Timothy “Tip” Rugile, Rural Family Medicine), medical students Rob Ross, Victoria Bamburg, Dieu Doan, Ariel Osorio, Miriam Hankins, Emily Barsley, Kelly Bihm, Rachel Noto, Andrew Murphy, and physician assistant Kelsey Devine. Mid-month Dr. Amy and the medical students went home, and were replaced by Dr. Michael Harper (LSU Family Medicine-Shreveport); medical students Britton Beatrous, Julio Vega, Rachel Strength, Victoria Luraguiz, and Richie Diaz; and registered nurse Melaine Wall Craig.

We were based at the home of Bishop Reuben and “Mama” Betty Lubanga, in the village of Kabula, just south of Bungoma, Kenya. Bishop Reuben’s organization, ICODEI/Volunteer Kenya, is our sponsor in the country. The organization provides our food and housing, sets up our clinic sites, and arranges for transportation and translators. The clinic coordinator, “Mama” Joyce Wasike, is the day-to-day ramrod and driving force.

Mornings started with breakfast, and a presentation by a medical student on a medical topic related to Kenya.

After breakfast, we headed over to the clinic building, where we usually saw several patients, then loaded up our pharmacy and equipment to travel to the day’s mobile clinic site.

We went to a different site each day, usually a rural church or a village community center. In one case, it was on the lawn of a private home. If there was space and shade available, we set up stations outside. Some sites had neither, and we set up inside. The low buildings with metal roofs get pretty hot up in the day, so outside in the shade was preferred.

Each student had a station to see patients, and a translator. After obtaining a history, performing a physical exam, and formulating a differential diagnosis and plan, the student daktaris would present the case to a faculty member. When the diagnosis and plan were confirmed, the patient received treatment, including medications from the pharmacy. Our resident physicians saw patients on their own, but often consulted faculty, as well.

Degenerative joint disease (old, worn out joints) is very common in our patient population, and we often inject joints to give the patient some temporary relief from their pain.

On weekends, we often did the tourist thing, and visited places like Samich Resort, on the escarpment overlooking the Great Rift Valley;

or Lake Victoria;

or even the caves of Mount Elgon.

Several team members elected to do a game safari to Lake Nakuru and Masai Mara Game Reserves.

We are all now home in the States, but as always, I returned a different person. I praise God for the opportunity to serve others, for His glory, in Kenya, and wherever the next opportunity takes me. I am just waiting for Him to open the door.

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