By Kristin EllisNovember 21, 2011
Two Kenyan medical officers recently shadowed doctors at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital to observe how American medics manage hospital operations and medical care.
Col. Daniel Mbinda, senior medical officer, and Lt. Col. Musa Kimuge, chief nursing officer, of Defence Forces Memorial Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya spent five days learning about evidence-based design and patient- and family-centered care as part of a military-to-military exchange program.
Most impressive to the Kenyan officers are features that specifically focus on patient care. From the design of the patient rooms to procedures that enable doctors to wait for the patient in the treatment room, Mbinda and Kimuge said there is a lot of innovation here that make the environment "completely unique."
"The concept of incorporating the family in the patient's care is quite elaborate, and the team spirit is very high," Kimuge said.
The week prior to the Kenyan's visit, their host -- Col. John O'Brien -- played student to the Kenyan team as he shadowed the officers at their premier referral hospital for the Kenyan department of defense. Mainly focused on the research and treatment of infectious diseases, the Defence Forces Memorial Hospital staff showed O'Brien the latest in care for tuberculosis, malaria and HIV.
"They have a very high-quality program when it comes to HIV care," O'Brien said. "They have great models we can learn a lot from."
In terms of treating war trauma patients, this is a relatively new focus for the Kenyan military medical community. Operations mainly centered on peacekeeping efforts up until a recent Somalia conflict, Mbinda explained.
"The care here is the best care that can be offered," Mbinda said in reference to treating war-wounded patients.
Although this was the first exchange program at the Belvoir hospital, U.S. Africa Command regularly deploys teams of mentors to countries in Africa to develop cooperative relationships with military forces there. The goal is to work with the partnering nation to strengthen friendships and increase overall security, stability and peace.
"The world is a global village," Kimuge said. "You cannot know your weaknesses until you have something you can compare it too. And you can't just look at slides from a presentation. You need to be able to see the processes and be able to conceptualize it."
Too often, there is a tendency to focus on differences, O'Brien said. "We may have different equipment, but we have the same approach and goal -- to provide the highest quality care possible. Hopefully, we can build a long-lasting relationship that will benefit both countries and further medical care."