Chogoria Hospital, Chogoria, Kenya

Mission: Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA)

Profile: Established in 1922 by Dr. Clive Irvine, a Scottish medical missionary, with a focus on preaching, healing, and teaching. In 1956, management of the hospital passed from the Church of Scotland to the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. It was rebuilt in the 1970’s and presently the hospital has 295 beds and is the principal health care provider in Tharaka-Nithi District (with more than 45,000 people). Infectious diseases predominate. Hypertension, diabetes, pneumonia, and asthma are common. Gastric and esophageal cancers are the most common malignancies. Trauma is a common reason for admissions due to traffic accidents. Malaria is present in nearby areas though uncommonly acquired at Chogoria. Gastroenteritis is also a problem in dry seasons due to a lack of reliable drinking water. HIV has been gradually increasing since 1987. Tuberculosis is common (50% of cases being HIV related). Outpatients may number 250 – 300 on any given day with a yearly total of 80,000. The hospital has four wards – medical, surgical, pediatric, and maternity (1000 deliveries per year). There is also a small nursery, 14-bed private ward, 4-bed casualty department, an eye unit, a physiotherapy department, a laboratory, and a pharmacy. Radiology support includes plain films, ultrasound, and CT. A modern 4-room dental building was completed in 2014. Occupancy rates currently average around 60%. Chogoria also has an established Community Health Department and very active TB and HIV outpatient services.

Time Difference: +7 hours Daylight Savings Time (EST), USA; +8 hours Eastern Standard Time, USA

Travel: Fly by commercial airline to Nairobi; drive 3-4 hours to Chogoria

Location: Chogoria Hospital is situated in the Tharaka-Nithi District of Kenya’s Eastern Province, 200 kilometers northeast of Nairobi on the eastern slopes of Mount Kenya.

People: The area is populated by the Meru and Tharaka peoples, both separate groups with their own dialects and customs. The total catchment population is now estimated to be over 450,000 (50% under 15 years of age).

Language: The Meru and Tharaka peoples speak Kimeru and Kitharaka respectively. Both English and Swahili are widely used throughout Kenya. All medical records are written in English, and translators are available for visiting physicians.

Religion: Although the area has a Presbyterian foundation, many other denominations can be found in and around Chogoria.

Climate: At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the climate is pleasant and temperate. There are rains from March to May, warm weather in June, cool and dull weather in July & August, and warm weather in September & October. Rains occur again October to December (with daytime temperatures in the 80’s and nighttime temperatures in the 50’s), and the hottest period of the year in January and February. August is the coolest month, and you will probably need warm clothes in the evenings.

Housing: Housing will be in the Guesthouse one of the houses or apartments on the hospital compound with facilities for self-catering. The Guesthouse has four rooms which can accommodate 1-3 people each. Two washrooms with showers and hot water are down the hall. Meals can be provided for a modest fee. Outside the Guesthouse, most housing consists of a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and 2-3 bedrooms. Generally the housing also has running water, refrigeration, electricity, and both gas and electric cooking facilities. Domestic help is easily obtained for laundry, etc.

Food: The hospital does not provide meals however the guest house attendant prepares breakfast and supper meals during the week (Monday-Friday) at the guest house for a small fee. The kitchen is available at other times for volunteers to prepare their own means. Basic food availability is limited but adequate and includes potatoes, rice, meat, bread, margarine, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. Butter, cheese, bacon, and sausage are not available locally as no shops have refrigerators. There is a market across the street where staple necessities can be bought. More specialized items can be purchased in Nairobi or in Meru (a 45-minute drive).