Notes from the field: A day in the life for two MIT Sloan students at Chebaiywa clinic in Western Kenya

Dateline: March 2012
Location: Kipkaren, rural Western Kenya

Thapana “Pipe” Chairoj (left) and David Hilliard (right) at the entrance of the Chebaiywa Health Center

We have arrived in Chebaiywa!

Last week, the clinical staff of Chebaiywa Health Center welcomed us as we began our GHD project.   The staff greeted us with a beautiful song and introductions.  The warm welcome kicked off an experience that has been truly amazing.

On our first day, Michelle, our host and nurse practitioner at the health center, gave us a tour of the village.  Chebaiywa is an iconic example of a small, peaceful, agriculture-based village along a quiet river.  As we walked through the village, locals came up to greet us and introduce themselves.  The children joined by waving and smiling as they passed by.  We are both so grateful to be working in such a beautiful place and be meeting these extremely hospitable and genuine Kenyans.

After our welcome day, we began our project at the clinic.  Each morning, we have breakfast at 8AM at the ELI Training Center (which will be our comfortable home for our whole 9-day stay in Chebaiywa), and then walk to the clinic.  The 10-minute walk along the river gives us a chance every day to appreciate the beautiful village and meet more locals.

At the clinic, we observe the flow of patients and information at the clinic in the morning and then interview staff members in the afternoon.  The clinical staff hopes to implement a medical record system through OpenMRS so our project is focusing on the feasibility of OpenMRS implementation and the future strategy of the health center.  Through these observations and interviews over the last week, we have generated value chain diagrams of the clinic’s processes.  This is a view that the clinic has never had before and allows us to determine the effects of an electronic medical record system on the clinic’s processes and strategy.

Working with the staff and learning about Kenyan culture, as well as the healthcare problems here, has been an amazing experience for us both.  As we eat Kenyan meals sourced from the villages livestock and farmlands, we find ourselves reflecting on all that we have learned about this wonderful country!



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