The staff and the clinical work
There are 40 paid staff. The clinical officers and nurses are supported by a team of cooks, cleaners, administration staff, watchmen, mortician, laboratory technicians and workmen. Just some of our staff are pictured below….
The Health Centre provides 24hr health care so there are shift work arrangements for the essential staff. Most of the health care is done on an out-patient basis. This is similar to general practice in the UK. But as the Health Centre is several miles away from the nearest hospital – along very bumpy, pot holey and irregular roads – the in-patient facility provides urgent treatment for problems that can be dealt with locally. The Health Centre is perhaps similar to what a small cottage hospital would provide in the UK.
By far, the most common medical emergency is malaria. Sometimes up to 8 in 10 in-patients are being treated for severe malaria. But, it is amazing to see how quickly most people recover from malaria if appropriate treatment is given early enough. Other typical cases admitted to the wards are severe dehydration caused by gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting), pneumonia, various other infections, asthma attacks, and then a variety of less common problems.
Out-patients consists of just about anything and everything – similar to what a GP in the UK might deal with, plus tropical diseases. Routine child health checks and immunizations are also part of the work. There is a small laboratory that can do a range of basic tests. However, anybody needing more complex investigations or treatment is referred to the nearest hospital.
The Health Centre is also equipped to deal with normal deliveries of pregnant women. Again, complicated cases are referred on to hospital.
People with HIV
There is a very high prevalence of people living with HIV in this region of Kenya. Many people have died from AIDS caused by HIV and there are many orphans as a result. However, in recent years, people with HIV who take antiretroviral therapy (ART) each day – a concoction of several drugs – can lead relatively normal lives. ART is now available free of charge to people in Kenya with HIV. The drugs are provided by the government and overseas donors. But, people with HIV and ART can only be managed by accredited clinics, health centres and hospitals.We are pleased to report that in November 2013, Simbiri Health Centre became accredited to do this work. Several staff undertook the required training course and our premises were compliant with the requirements (safe and secure storage of drugs, proper consultation rooms, etc). The photo shows Kevin,a senior nurse, receiving the accreditation certificate.
This now means that the local people with HIV can be managed locally and do not have to travel every month to distant hospitals to collect their drugs and to be monitored.Although it was a team effort to become accredited, we are very grateful to Dr Ann Egan. Ann is a UK GP but spent five months on sabbatical at Simbiri Health Centre in 2012. She was the driving force behind arranging and sorting out the required training of staff to become ART accredited.
Ann continues to take a keen interest in Simbiri, visited again for a couple of weeks in the Spring of 2014, again for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2015, and again for 10 days in September 2016. Her she is on her last visit!
A video produced by a friend who visited Ann at Simbiri in 2012 can be viewed here.
Community health workersThere are 15 community health workers (CHWs) attached to Simbiri Health Clinic. These are unpaid volunteers who promote good health and hygiene in their own villages. For example, counseling people on the use of bed nets to prevent malaria, hand washing and other methods to prevent diarrhoea, balanced nutrition, good child health and maternal health practices, family planning, how to recognize serious illness, etc.
CHWs are part of a government scheme to promote good health practices in Kenya. Part of their work is to collect statistics on various health indicators which help to evaluate the impact of their (and our) work. The indicators are placed in the reception area for all to see….
In addition, two or three CHWs help out on a voluntary basis each day at the Health Centre. We are very grateful for their help and support, and for their liaison with people living in the surrounding villages.