Indiana University’s partnership with Moi University and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Kenya has been impacting the lives and careers of faculty and trainees for more than three decades. Earlier this month, five Indiana health leaders made their first visit to Kenya to see for themselves what makes the AMPATH collaboration so special.
“I've been at Indiana University for 20 plus years and have heard about the program for many years from my infectious diseases colleagues, as well as from students and residents who've spent time here,” said Bradley Allen, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for Medical Student Education. “To actually see it in person has brought new light to my appreciation for what this program does.”
Dr. Allen lauded the level of compassion shown by each person and the collaboration that brings together students, residents and faculty from IU and other schools in the AMPATH Consortium to work together with Kenyan colleagues with a seamless focus on the patient and the social determinants of health that impact their care.
“What I'm taking back with me to Indiana is a better understanding of how faculty, staff and learners from Indiana University participate in healthcare, healthcare research and healthcare education here in Eldoret and throughout the region in western Kenya,” said David Aronoff, MD, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine. He said he feels better equipped to discuss the AMPATH partnership with undergraduate university students, medical students, house staff and faculty and to advocate for people at IU who may want to become involved. He also hopes to create a collaborative landing zone for members of the community in Kenya to come to Indiana and Indianapolis and be part of care teams there, get additional training and create an opportunity to share expertise and cultures from one continent to another.
Michelle Janney, PhD, RN, chief operating officer at IU Health, came to Kenya to design a learning exchange program. “I think the compilation of moments here is beyond anything I've experienced in my professional career,” she said. “I have deep appreciation for everyone I met, their willingness to share and their willingness to co-design with me something that can help lift up leaders at IU Health and here at Moi and through AMPATH.”
She recognized similarities between her time in Kenya and her work in Indiana. “At IU Health, we aspire to be values-based leaders. We have four values: purpose, excellence, compassion and team. And you would have thought that those were the themes throughout everyone I met.”
When asked what she would take back to Indiana from the visit, Barbara DeRose, PhD, RN, NP-C, director for global programs Indiana University School of Nursing, simply responded, “Everything.”
“The community visit was so amazing,” she continued. “We went out to a village called Turbo and saw a clinic that had been built complete with the staff and the equipment that they were able to receive through AMPATH. We also went to a small village where we were able to see a cohort of pregnant women, women who had given birth, and women who had the toddlers working in a community in order to make life easier. They were able to talk with each other about their concerns and their problems.”
Karl Bilimoria, MD, MS, chair of the Department of Surgery said, “This really solidified my understanding of why people are so excited about AMPATH and Eldoret back home and started to give me a sense of how we, as the Department of Surgery, can continue to support the existing surgical programs and build upon them. We are committed to doing that and so I look forward to continuing the relationship.”
“I'm taking back to Indiana a much deeper understanding of what happens here,” said Dr. Bilimoria. “But in one week you can only scratch the surface, and so I hope to come back and continue that learning.”
Dr. deRose added, “We had an in-depth experience on how broad and deep these collaborations have been and where the place for nursing fits right in to continue to carry on that tradition to involve more nursing. I was able to meet with the Director of Nursing as well as the Dean of the School of Nursing. I was able to meet nursing and educational staff to discuss interests and projects that they have been working on and what they would like to do in the future in collaboration with us. I have lots of ideas and we're very excited for the future.”
Dr. Allen expressed his appreciation for the beauty of Kenya and the people, especially in Eldoret, who host IU students and residents on a regular basis and make them feel at home. “For that, my big thanks,” he concluded.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Assistant Director of Communications
As assistant director of communications for the IU Center for Global Health and AMPATH, Debbie shares stories about the university's partnerships to improve health care in Kenya and around the world. Contact her at 317-278-0827 or firstname.lastname@example.org.