The journey of PCEA Chogoria Hospital Palliative Care Unit

Categories: Care.

PCEA Chogoria Hospital is a Non-Governmental
Organization and Mission Hospital in rural Kenya established by Scottish
missionaries in the year 1922.

The hospital situated on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya, 200 km from Nairobi, in Maara district covers an area
approximately 3,000sq kilometers includIng Tharaka Nithi and Meru Counties
and covers a population of about one million persons as per the 2009 Kenyan
census.

Among the hospital departments is the Community
Health Department that reaches out to the rural community with preventive and
promotive health services.

It is this department that houses
the palliative care unit which started its operations in 2001 as a result of a Community
Need Assessment conducted within the catchment area.

The assessment revealed that ¾ of
terminally ill patients are stigmatised leading to a denial of care that they deserve hence the need to start a palliative care unit was realized.

Chogoria Hospital Palliative Care
Unit (PCU), located within the main hospital has a part time doctor, a
coordinator, a nurse, a part time accountant and a clerk with its activities supervised
by the hospital administration.

A total of 10 clients were
supported in the first year (2001) by Chogoria Hospital and friends, namely Dr
Grant’s family (UK) and Dr Brown’s family (USA). Due to an increase in the
number of clients, the support mentioned above was strained
leading to inability of the palliative care unit to continue.

In 2006, the unit received funds
from the now closed
Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund to support its
activities which include;

  • Total pain assessment and control
  • Treatment of opportunistic infections
  • Provision of medical supplies to our clients
  • Home visits to reinforce home based care
  • Day care services for the clients and their care
    givers
  • Training hospital staff on palliative care
  • Community mobilization
  • Training community volunteers.

Before the close of the fund, all
the mentioned services were offered free of charge to the clients. The unit
since cost shares its services.

Currently, the unit has outpatient
services with visits to patients who are admitted in the hospital as well as
two home visits every week.

The palliative care unit has continuously
grown and by the end of December 2013, it had 285 active clients. 

The unit advocates for home based
care to reduce bed occupancy by the terminally ill clients in the hospital.
This also aims at lessening the financial burden for the family that arises from
huge hospital bills.

Having no other palliative care
services in the catchment area, the clients come from the whole region seeking palliative
care at PCEA Chogoria Hospital.

Clients in the PCU need pain
control medications, counseling, medical supplies and even nutritional support.
Without palliative care in the hospital, clients would continue suffering as
most of them are poor. Even food is a problem.

Most of the PCU clients are from
the rural Kenya where transport is a challenge and therefore the need to take these
services near them is crucial. This has called for frequent home visits.

Its departments include that of the palliative care unit,
the comprehensive care clinic, chest and leprosy unit and the rural health
unit.

Besides the above, the hospital has a nurse training school
that trains community health nurses.

Its core values are;

  • Quality,
    affordable, sustainable health services
  • Compassion,
    dignity and good stewardship
  • Teamwork
    and commitment
  • Integrity
    and professionalism     

With a vision of a Christian based center of excellence
offering quality health care services and training, the unit has a mission to
witness the Lord Jesus Christ by participating in the ministry of healing,
addressing the needs of the whole person to the glory of God.