Megan Hoffsis & Jordan Hoile, ’Doah Contributing Writers
February 6, 2013
On Dec. 29, five Shenandoah University Physical Therapy students, and one University of Virginia masters of Public Health student embarked on a two-week service trip to Maua, Kenya to work with the physical therapy and community health departments at Maua Methodist Hospital.
Second-years Jordan Hoile, Megan Hoffsis, Mitchell Schroeder, and Patrick Everett, along with first-year Brittany Brancato and MPH student Tiffany Mettel, chose to travel to Kenya to experience physical therapy service in a developing nation’s mission hospital, as well as assisting with public health initiatives within various communities.
The physical therapy team worked with Henry Bilton, an amazing mentor and friend, who trained at Jomo Kenyatta University in Nairobi.
Each day began at the chapel on the hospital grounds, where we were charged to work with passion and positive attitudes with everyone in the hospital. We spent the first part of the morning meeting with the physicians, and collaborating on patient cases.
The rest of the morning was spent working in the inpatient wards. Hospital wards included medical, for severely ill patients; pediatrics, including children with developmental delay, recovering from tuberculosis meningitis and premature births; burns, both pediatric and adult; surgical, commonly patients with amputations, cancer, and osteomyelitis; and maternity.
Brancato said, “I really enjoyed spending time in the wards, particularly in pediatrics and with the children in the burns unit. They have so much resiliency and have so much hope, regardless of their current situation.”
Following lunch, we worked in the outpatient office of the hospital. Most commonly, we worked with people following strokes, with low back pain, overuse injuries and traumatic injuries.
We also assisted Bilton in resetting and casting children’s fractures. “Working with the patients post-stroke was a great way to apply what we have learned during our curriculum. This experience helped me to realize my passion for working with this population,” said Hoffsis.
Mettel spent her time at Maua working with Stanley Gitari and the rest of the community Health Department team. This department has a multitude of outreach and public health initiatives, including HIV/AIDS counseling, prenatal check-ups, child immunizations, de-worming programs and more. The whole team had a chance to experience two outreach missions to rural schools about an hour away, with a focus on immunizations, de-worming, pregnancy check-ups, and wellness checks with a team of nurses and other students.
This trip proved to be a life-changing and incredible learning experience for the entire group.
The team would like to thank Sue and Jim Monroe for facilitating our volunteer experience; Henry Bilton, Stanley Gitari and the rest of the wonderful people on staff at Maua Methodist Hospital, as well as the SUPT faculty.
“We are incredibly lucky to be a part of Shenandoah’s physical therapy program,” Hoile stated. “Our faculty is amazingly supportive of every trip and service endeavor we want to be a part of. They give their free time to make sure we are prepared academically, and encourage us to take every opportunity we have to use our skills to learn and to serve. We could not do this without you!”