Lilly sends employees to Kenya through Connecting Hearts Abroad trip
Connecting Hearts Abroad is a program that was established by Eli Lilly and Company in 2011 that sends their employees to underserved communities to provide direct assistance by teaching, enhancing healthcare, and aiding in community development. Recently, twelve members embarked on a journey to Eldoret for two weeks to work with AMPATH’s Oncology program with the intent of enhancing the quality of cancer care for patients. The experiences of one of the members, Cheryl Davis, are shared below.
Davis advocates for individuals inflicted with cancer in countries that typically have more resources by listening to patients’ stories and addressing their concerns however she finds possible. While she greatly enjoyed various aspects of her journey in Eldoret that revealed the culture of the area, ranging from baking bread with staff, attending a banking meeting with the Group Integrated Savings for Health Empowerment (GISHE) program, and holding individuals’ hands in patient hospice, one of her most memorable moments was talking with a 19 year old boy diagnosed with lymphoma. The young man is currently a finance and economics student in college and loves playing badminton and modeling when he is feeling well. He was told to travel to AMPATH, six hours away from his home, when he was first diagnosed and stayed in the crowded hospital for seven months, receiving chemotherapy.
Although the young man is grateful that AMPATH has provided him with treatment, he and his clinical officer discussed the fact that the costs of treatment are still high, even with insurance, and that there isn’t access to bone marrow transplants in Kenya. When hearing this, Davis stated, “I can’t help but feel the injustice knowing that the majority of patients can be cured with this same diagnosis in more developed countries. Lives should not be determined by geography or by resources.” She believes it is important to realize this heartbreaking reality and to try to do as much as one can about it, such as through donations and advocacy.
Dr. Angenieta Biegel and the Moi Stethoscope Ceremony
Eighty students from the Moi University School of Medicine Class of 2019 attended their stethoscope ceremony on January 18. The ceremony has been made possible for almost twenty years, due to Dr. Angenieta Biegel’s generous donation to purchase stethoscopes for the incoming fourth year students. Although she passed away in 2008, she donated through a bequest to the Hermina Biegel Endowment Fund to continue the purchase of stethoscopes each year in perpetuity.
Dr. Biegel obtained her medical degree in 1956 from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and attended Indiana University School of Medicine for residency. While her generosity has made the stethoscope ceremony successful in Eldoret for almost two decades, she also spent her life providing patient care for 40 years in addition to mentoring medical students, contributing to seventy publications, and developing and running the Histocompatibility Laboratory for organ transplantation at the IU Medical Center. She received the Hoosier Lifetime Service Award and was recognized as a “Woman of Distinction” for the great impact she made in her community. Dr. Biegel serves as an inspiration to us all at AMPATH and her memory lives on!
Palliative Care in Kenya
Providing Palliative Care in Kenya is a team effort through a partnership between the dedicated palliative care physicians, clinical officers, nurses and social workers in Eldoret Kenya and the members of the AMPATH Consortium. The palliative care team focuses on symptom control, particularly pain management for patients with life limiting diseases. They provide hands-on care in the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital as well as the palliative care clinic.
Their current challenge is to move beyond the clinics and hospital and provide support when patients return home. When patients leave the hospital, they often return to remote areas with little or no medical services. Even when services are available, medical personnel lack experience with pain and symptom control as patients near the end of life. The AMPATH team has been providing limited support through a 24-hour hotline but a more proactive management of symptoms and family support is needed. They are currently focused on developing telephone monitoring and treatment for their patients. The ultimate goal is to use telecommunication as a novel means of delivering hospice care to individuals in remote areas.
To suggest an article for a future Habari, contact Deb Neary.