Kendu Adventist Hospital is the oldest and largest Adventist medical facility in Kenya. It was founded in 1924 under the East African Union of Seventh-day Adventists and is today under the West Kenya Union Conference. It is situated a short distance from the shores of Lake Victoria at Kendu Bay.
Founding of the Institution
When Kendu Adventist Hospital (then Kenya Hospital) was founded in 1924,1 Dr. George A. S. Madgwick was appointed to serve as the first medical director. The first two nurses at the hospital were Karen Nielsen and Carentze Olsen who, prior to coming to Kendu, served at Skodsburg Sanitarium in Denmark.2 Dr. Madgwick served in Kendu for 15 years while the two pioneer nurses both served for 25 years. In the early years the hospital conducted important medical work, bringing much needed services to this region. Some 20 other medical directors served at Kendu following Dr. Madgwick, serving terms of varied durations. Two of them served more than one term; notably, Dr. B. E. Amundsen (1950-1953 and 1954-1956) and Dr. E. C. Kraft (1971-1979; 1985-1988; and 1989-1990).
Kendu Adventist Hospital has over the years grown to be a complex which encompasses a School of Medical Sciences, an elementary school, and a Comprehensive Care Center. The hospital which started with six beds is currently a 170-bed facility.
In 2007 the hospital’s management structure was revised, creating the position of chief executive officer who leads an administrative team composed of the director of medical staff, director of nursing services, business manager, director of school of medical sciences, coordinator for the comprehensive care center, and hospital chaplain.
Kendu Adventist Hospital is proactively involved in offering the following services:
Preventive and Promotive Services
Childhood immunization services
Ante natal care to pregnant mothers
Health education to clients
Follow-up home visits in the community
Contraceptive technology services
Regular medical check-up on request
Blood pressure monitoring services by community health volunteers
Diagnostic services – functional medical laboratory, X-ray
In- and out-patient services
Treatment of tropical and non-tropical diseases
Management of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and communicable diseases
Wound management services
Yearly corrective specialized surgeries
Medical follow-up upon discharge
Out-patient medical and surgical clinics
Patient support center (Comprehensive Care Center) for clients infected or affected by HIV and AIDS
Provision of support service to needy physically challenged clients
Household follow-ups after reconstructive surgery
Patient physical and occupational therapy services
Visits to schools with physically handicapped pupils
Important Leadership Tenures
While different generations each have their memories of the great services offered by the missionary doctors over the decades, Dr. E. C. Kraft is well remembered for returning to serve in Kendu more than once and particularly for the structural expansion of the hospital facility. Dr. Kraft’s wife, Ruby, died in Kendu in 1989 while he was serving his third and last term. The elementary school, Ruby Kraft Primary School, was established in 1991 within the hospital complex in honor of his departed wife.3
Schools Associated with the Hospital
Kendu Adventist School of Medical Sciences (KASMS). The school, formerly known as Kendu Adventist School of Nursing, was established in 1948 to train nurse assistants and later trained nurses at certificate level until the year 2007 when the diploma program was established, giving room for both direct admission and qualified nurses seeking to upgrade to diploma level. The name was changed to Kendu Adventist School of Medical Sciences upon the introduction of a new diploma in clinical medicine and surgery in 2011.The college is registered by the Ministry of Education and upholds high academic and moral standards.
Ruby Kraft Primary School. This primary school established in 19914 was initially intended to take care of the workers’ children. However, due to the school’s continued excellent performance in the Kenya National Examinations Council exams for the eighth grade, and the subsequent overwhelming number of applicants, the school has over the years grown to the current pupil population of more than 300 children. The school has classes for both an early child development program and primary grades 1 to 8.
The Hospital’s Relationship with the Region
From its inception and as the years advanced, Kendu Adventist Hospital served as the only major referral in the large South Nyanza region of Kenya and opened doors to referrals from across the border into neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda. The hospital currently serves as a major referral facility for Homa Bay and the surrounding counties and is also an approved center for a one-year internship program for medical officers who are posted by the national government upon their completion of degree courses in various institutions both locally and internationally.
Services Provided to the Area in Which the Institution is Located
Christmas parties with selected educational themes
Church services open to all community members
Outreach clinics on ante natal care and immunization services
Comprehensive care center for those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS
Supply of treated water at a subsidized rate
Key Donations to and Partnership with the Hospital
The hospital has benefitted from the following organizations, institutions, and agencies:
ADRA Finland - sponsorship to clients in need of reconstructive surgeries
A Better World Canada - structural upgrade, rehabilitative care, and medical equipment
Adventist Health International - governance and networking
Kenya Government, Ministry of Health - regulatory, licensing, and supervisory
County Government of Homa Bay - Human resource and supervisory support
Christian Health Association of Kenya (CHAK) - advocacy, collective bargaining, facility enhancement
Friends of Kendu Adventist Hospital - development
Loma Linda University - Program expansion and exchange
University of East Africa Baraton - program exchange and affiliations
Diak University, Finland - program exchange and affiliations
West Kenya Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists -13th Sabbath offering which constructed the 34-bed surgical ward
National Hospital Insurance Fund
Spiritual, Medical, Economic, and Social Impact of the Institution
The hospital’s medical training school has produced more than 10,000 nurse graduates and more than 200 clinical medicine and surgery diploma graduates. The alumni are spread out globally with a general reputation of outstanding performance with a high level of competency. The institution makes available quality services to the community with the established referral and networking system exposing the clients to other available quality services as per their needs.
Due to the existence of the institution, the local community has over the decades been empowered economically with ever increasing demands for rental houses, off-campus student hostels, recreation areas, restaurants, and shops. The institution also engages the small entrepreneurs who supply vegetables and other perishable produce from the surrounding market by engaging the local vendors.
Socially the institution has enabled the community to mingle with people from other countries and counties. This exposes the local community to a broader perspective of life, increasing their knowledge, changing their attitudes where necessary, and improving their skills. Intermarriages have also been encouraged and as a result the community is empowered to enlarge its worldview of issues.
Staying on Course to the Mission
The daily devotional programs conducted by the staff with the clients have continued to provide a better healing environment to the clients who seek services at the hospital. The hospital chaplaincy presence and regular visits to in-patient clients augments the medical services rendered at the facility. The clients admitted as inpatients are served with a healthy vegetarian diet which also compliments the medical services.
With the increased frequency of employment actions by health workers in the public hospitals, such as the prolonged doctors’ strike which started at the end of 2017 and lasted more than three months,5 and which happened just after a five-month strike6 by nurses, the Kendu Adventist Hospital managed to serve clients from far and near regardless of their economic or social backgrounds and despite the strains on the available resources.
The positive response to such crises is driven more by the hospital’s value system that focuses on saving lives as opposed to mere money making. A large percentage of the increased number of patients who sought services at the hospital during the strikes were from poor economic backgrounds, with most being unable to settle their hospital bills.
Although the hospital continues to serve as a major referral hospital in the region, emergence of many other small health facilities with more modern sophisticated equipment poses a challenge to the existence, competitiveness, and relative efficiency in service delivery at the Kendu Adventist Hospital. The hospital therefore needs to look critically into ways of sourcing relevant functional diagnostic equipment that responds effectively to the market trends.
The following specific actions may go a long way in reestablishing the hospital, not only as a center of excellence in service, but also as a facility of choice in and around the region:
Establishment of a functional and well-equipped emergency and trauma care center
Remodeling of out-patient department and renovation of in-patient wards
General infrastructural improvement to suit modern trends and needs
Acquisition of modern digital imaging equipment in the radiology department
Identification and establishment of satellite clinics in strategic urban centers
Continuous and purposed improvement in staff remuneration to increase retention of key technical staff
The institution has been known by three different names at different times as follows: Kenya SDA Hospital (1924-1929), Kendu Mission Hospital (1929-1980); Kendu Adventist Hospital (1980-present).
List of Leaders/Medical Directors Since Inception
Dr. G. A. S. Madgwick (1925-1940); Dr. Ermshar (1941-1942); Dr. L. P. Foster (1943-1944); Dr. D. H. Abbot (1945-1950); Dr. B. E. Amundsen (1950-1953); Dr. M. W. Fowler (1953-1954); Dr. B. E. Amundsen (1954-1956); Dr. S. A. Kotz (1956-1960); Dr. W. W. Oliphant (1961-1962); Dr. Calkin (1962-1963); Dr. A. W. Perepelitsa (1963-1966); Dr. K. H. Sturdevant (1966-1969); Dr. R. N. Buckley (1969-1970); Dr. D. W. Harrison (1970-1971); Dr. E. C. Kraft (1971-1979); Dr. L. Laguno (1980-1983); Dr. Osorio (1983-1984); Dr. E. C. Kraft (1985-1989); Dr. A. Rocero (1988-1989); Dr. E. C. Kraft (1989-1990); Dr. E. Odira (1990-2004); Dr. E. Solis (2004-2005); Dr. J. R. O. Owaka (2006-2007). Beginning in 2008, the administrative structure changed so that the hospital was administered by a chief executive officer: Joel Dalaguan (2007-2009); Eric Agembe (acting 2010-2013); Tobias Panyako (acting 2014); Lewis Ondiek (2014-2015); George Opundo (2015-present).
Chemweno, Brigid and Paul Ogemba. “Apology to Kenyans as Doctors’ Strike Ends with Return-To-Work Formula.” Accessed August 22, 2019. https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001232717/apology-to-kenyans-as-doctors-strike-ends-with-return-to-work-formula.
Kendu Adventist Hospital Board Minutes, 15-90 of April 3, 1990. Kendu Adventist Hospital Archive.
Kendu Adventist Hospital Board Minutes, 18-90 of April 3, 1990. Kendu Adventist Hospital Archive.
Kimanthi, Kennedy and Faith Nyamai, “Kenyan Nurses End Their 5-Month Strike After Deal with State.” Accessed August 22, 2019, https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kenyan-nurses-end-4-month-strike-after-deal-with-State/1056-4166940-mo35skz/index.html.
Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Revised edition. 2 vols. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996. S.v. “Kendu Adventist Hospital.”
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1926. Accessed August 22, 2019. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1926.pdf.
“Kenya Hospital,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1926), 284.↩
Ibid.; Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (1996), s.v. “Kendu Adventist Hospital.”↩
Kendu Adventist Hospital Board Minutes, 18-90 of April 3, 1990, Kendu Adventist Hospital Archive.↩
Kendu Adventist Hospital Board Minutes, 15-90 of April 3, 1990, Kendu Adventist Hospital Archive.↩
Brigid Chemweno and Paul Ogemba,“Apology to Kenyans as Doctors’ Strike Ends with Return-To-Work Formula,” accessed August 22, 2019, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001232717/apology-to-kenyans-as-doctors-strike-ends-with-return-to-work-formula.↩
Kennedy Kimanthi and Faith Nyamai, “Kenyan Nurses End Their 5-Month Strike After Deal With State,” accessed August 22, 2019, https://www.nation.co.ke/news/Kenyan-nurses-end-4-month-strike-after-deal-with-State/1056-4166940-mo35skz/index.html.↩