Somehow, this April marks 6 years of us living in Kijabe. And finally, this month at the hospital I have had a little space to breathe and recollect, as the national doctors’s strike finally ended after 100 days. Patients are not so often coming to us as their 5th and final stop, too late to help. I have had several shifts now without a child dying. Which has meant a little space to be able to enjoy the big picture.
We have been able to commence our core curriculum for training our pediatric clinical officer team. In 2011 there were 2 clinical officers, Bob and Lillian, providing care alongside the doctors for kids and babies. Today we have a team of 7, with Bob & Lillian as faculty – COs expertly providing 24/7 care for critically ill children with compassion and excellence. This formal curriculum we hope to scale up to a nationally approved program, equipping clinical officers from all over Kenya.
We’ve been able to welcome our first rotating doctor from my old program in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr Urvashi has been visited last month, a senior fellow in Pediatric Emergency Medicine – here to help our clinical officers learn pediatric trauma, airway management and bedside ultrasound.
We are continuing to develop, with colleagues in Nairobi & Seattle, our teaching modules for the Pediatric Emergency and Critical Care training program that we pray will now finally be approved by the University of Nairobi (now that the university doctors are back at work to approve it). We have pediatricians all over East Africa asking us – when will you start? When can we come?
I have the privilege of finalising some journal / conference papers analysing some of the results of the last 6 years of caring for kids here. There is so much we have learned & trialled that we now get to share with others doing exactly what we’re doing across the resource-limited sector – such as the first survivors of fatal newborn surgical conditions due to our team approach to IV nutrition and whole-baby care. The babies with what should be fatal dehydration / kidney damage surviving without dialysis. Our collaborative approach to medical training that can weather a 100-day national healthcare shutdown.
And our team has just welcomed back Arianna after her own 5 month home assignment in the US, who replaces me as the country’s only trained PEM physician as we start our year in Australia in June. As I tie up loose ends here, I see the Kijabe pediatric team growing, strong and supportive, caring for babies and kids with cancer, prematurity and critical illnesses and pushing the boundaries of care here every day.
As we celebrate our 6th Kenya-versary, I am grateful to be able to look back at the journey I could never have imagined unfolding here. When we came in 2011, I hoped as a pediatrician to care for sick kids and babies. But in addition I’ve grown as a doctor and participated in growing Kijabe Hospital’s training of pediatric clinical officers, nurses and pediatric specialists. I could never have anticipated the incredible relationships that would form with the doctors, COs and nurses and our broader community here.
As we look ahead to our home assignment and further study in June in Australia, and the “what’s next?” after that, I have such joy as we look forward as well as back.