Wednesday, April 14, 2021

The AIC Litein Hospital

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

                                                                              Proverbs 3: 5-6

The hospital restaurant
Most evenings, I go to have dinner in the hospital "restaurant".
Out of what's on the menu, I generally get the "red beans and rice".
I figure beans have protein, so I should be ok.  Dinner goes for about 150 shillings, or $1.50.
Since tea is so important here, I patriotically have an evening cup of Chai, which they always serve so boiling hot that I have to water it down with cold water so I can actually drink it.
They have a TV in the eating area, which alternates in the evening with 'soap operas' (all are over-acted and funny to watch; all in Swahili); or their local news shows, which resemble our own small network news programs, complete with roving TV reporters and cameras.
Motorcycle taxis
Throughout Kenya, motorcycles serve as local taxis.  Young men on motorcycles are parked in front of the hospital, ready to take you anywhere.

The Shoe Store
Litein’s Operating Room policies are quite strict about foot-ware in the Operating Theater. 
No street shoes allowed.  Lots of farm animals are around, if you know what I mean.  I went into town and bought some clogs from a local street shoe store.  I sat on the curb and tried them on.  $2.00.
This is the rainy season.  The storms are quite entertaining if you are not walking outside.
Clouds just automatically seem to appear around 1-2 pm.
Lots of thunder!  And it rains so hard on the steel roofs that it sounds like a freight train!
Really loud! 
The Daily Routine
Ward rounds begin each morning M-F at 7:15.
It’s quite a crowd.  Surgical staff, their residents, nursing students, medical assistants.
One of the electrical generators squeaks in the background so it can be difficult to hear the presentations.  Clinic is each Monday and Wednesday.  Operating Room days are Tuesdays, Thursdays and sometimes Fridays.

The Litein Hospital community
Many people live around the hospital.
First. there is housing for most of the staff physicians, the young residents-in-training and their children.
Everyone lives within walking distance of the hospital and each other.
Second, there are two Litein boarding high schools: one for girls and one for boys.
The high school girls sing together at 6 am each morning, like clock-work.
It’s quite nice actually.
Third, there’s a combined nursing school and medical assistant school.
We see them all over the hospital.  The nursing students wear light blue dresses with dark blue sweaters.  Fourth, there’s an orphanage for young boys behind the row of stores in front of the hospital.
And of course, there is a church. All of this is on a hill above the town of Litein.
The people of Litein Hospital
Dedicated.  Caring.  Clearly doing their best.  Clearly motivated.
That goes from the Nursing Director, the Medical Director, right on down to the nurses in the clinics and the wards. Their effort and good intentions are very plain.   I am inspired to work with them.
I’m always trying to come up with new ideas that might help.
Christian Overseas Organizations: all working together
Many different Christian service organizations have come together at Litein, serving God’s people.
Some are Mission Doctors, World Medical Mission, Pioneers, Serge, and the Pan African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS).  PAACS deserves special recognition.  They trained all 4 Kenyan surgeons who work at Litein.  Training good, intelligent young Kenyan talent for the long-term.  Incredible.
Resource poor
Litein makes the most of everything.  All equipment is recycled as much as possible.
Electrocautery devices, tubing, everything.  All operating room gowns and drapes are made of cloth and washed and resterilized.   Just about everything is recleaned and reused until it falls apart.
Litein is a Christian Hospital without government support or insurance, so people have to come in with cash to get treated.  But they know they get good care, so they come.
Surgery clinic
The scope of problems is wide.  No subspecialists work here.  It all comes to us.  All the urology, ENT, lthyroids, plastics, breast, esophageal cancers and metastatic cancers all come to us.
General surgeons in small towns in the USA know what I’m talking about. 
Unusual problems
There have been quite a few.  The hospital doesn’t have a CT scanner, so it can make things tougher to diagnose and treat.  A small for age 3 year-old child came in with an obstructed intestine from Ascaris worms.  My goodness!
Skin grafts
Before I left to go to Africa, I brought a hand-held skin grafting handle and blades.  It turned out to be a pretty good idea.  That turned out to be something that was lacking.  The residents and I put skin grafts  
on a few people and they all did well.  Thank God.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021



“What place is this?  Where are we now?”

                                                                                                                                                Carl Sandburg


I’ve made it here to Litein, Kenya.  I’m working in a hospital with the same name.

It’s a small town.  And people couldn’t be nicer.  Everyone is pleasant and considerate.

Invariably, when I walk down the street, people are pleasant and greet me, good-naturedly trying to practice their English phrases. “How are you?” Or “Hello “muzungo” (their term for a white European person).  Being white, it’s a lot like having a blinking neon sign over my head as I walk around.


One thing I can say is that Africa is not what many people may think it is.  How could we know? 

We have little exposure and I’ve found the Kenyans I’ve met know more about us than we know about them.


Litein is 7000 feet above sea level; higher than Denver, Colorado (5280 feet).  The elevation is noticeable when I walk around.  The town center has 2 parallel roads covering ~2 miles, each lined with one-story buildings with small businesses with hand-painted signs for each.  It’s an interesting complex of rocky uneven dirt roads and asphalt streets lined with street vendors of fruits, vegetables, candies and hard-boiled eggs.  In addition to the people walking by the sides of the road, chickens, donkeys and cattle are common fellow downtown pedestrians. 


I was surprised to find two large supermarket/general stores. I’m surprised that I could buy everything from toothpaste to soft drinks and cookies.  The upper floors sell clothing and furniture.  There are some cars on the roads.  The local taxis are all motorcycles.



The A.I.C Litein Hospital (AIC = Africa Inland Church) dates back to 1923.  Its present building was completed in 1996.  It has 220 beds with open wards and 10 emergency room beds. The surgery clinics are busy; seeing ~90 patients each Monday and Wednesday.

Bordering the hospital grounds are living quarters for staff, separate high schools for girls and boys,

and a nursing school.  There’s also an orphanage for young boys nearby.



The Hospital is painted a beautiful shade of green. Why? I have a theory. I think it is the adjacent the tea farms.  The hospital’s green is the same as the area’s green-colored tea fields.  Tea is the dominant cash crop.  On the road north to the state capital of Kericho, the tea fields extend on either side of the road as far as the eye can see.  After seeing that, it doesn’t surprise me that Kenya is the world’s largest exporter of tea in the world: >450 tons of tea per year. 


This hospital and rural community where I’ve come to serve have a great deal to teach me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do
than by the ones you did do.”

Mark Twain; Jackson Brown Jr: Tamera O’Brien

“IN THE END… We only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”

Lewis Carroll

Everyone has a bucket list.
We all have lists of things that we would like to do,
or places that we would like to go,
before we die and leave this earth.

On my list has always been the desire to serve overseas as a full-time medical missionary.
But I’ve never really done it. I’ve done some part-time medical service trips, but I never put everything
aside to serve long-term. Something always got in the way.

I am lucky because now I am going to do it.
I’m lucky because I can physically do it.
Saint Therese of Lisieux, the Patron Saint of the Missions, could not.
She had wanted to serve in Vietnam. But she died of tuberculosis in her convent in France before she had the chance.

Then there is the story of Dr. Powe.
Dr. Powe was a physician who also wanted to serve those in great need in the missions. At the end of his career, he joined the Mission doctors Association of Los Angeles. He completed their 9-month course of formation training. Just before his mission was to begin, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent treatment, but the treatment was not successful. He died of his cancer before he could go.
So yes, I am lucky. I have a great deal to be thankful for.
And I’m going to give it all I’ve got. 

The AIC Litein Hospital

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your pa...