- January 27, 2022
- Posted by: Denis Nyagah
- Category: Medical Tourism
I first met Veronica Chepkoech in September, 2021 at our hotel when she had accompanied Dr Fred Koske together with his cousin and a friend to come and meet us. A generally quiet soul, the Clinical officer has been helping his family take care of Dr Koske since he was discharged from the National Spinal Injury Referral Hospital on to 4th August, 2021 where he had been hospitalised from 26th January, 2021. Dr Koske suffered a spinal injury and can barely do anything for himself. Veronica and her team are here to pick us up so that together with our team we can go and meet the doctor’s dad, Dr Joel Koske and his mum, Mrs Eunice Koske at their home in Kapletyo, which is in Mogogosiek in Bomet County.
Dr Koske tells us it would be an uphill task for us to figure where their home is and seeing as we had gotten lost on our first day at Bomet, he says it’s safer for us to follow them as they lead the way in their car. The road is rough but unlike in the city, there is no traffic despite it being a Saturday. But for a weekend, I notice there is not a single wedding convoy along the way unlike in Nairobi. Home, turns out was roughly a 20-minute drive but Dr Koske assures us that we would not have found it that easily since even Google Maps doesn’t know where we live, he says cracking us up.
After we are introduced to the family, I excuse myself and go back to our van to pick my notebook as the production team sets up for our day’s shoot. Veronica follows me and we start chatting like old friends. I notice everyone at the Koske home is wearing their masks unlike in the hotel where not a single person wore a mask. I share my observation with Veronica who tells me that only one case of Covid 19 has been reported in the local health centre and probably that could explain the laxity in wearing face masks. Well, sounds good but not good enough to let down one’s guard.
Vero, as she is commonly called was quite free with me and I decide to take advantage of our new-found friendship by asking her a few personal questions on what her role as caregiver entailed. “It is not for the faint-hearted,” she tells me as she goes on to explain how the Koske family had engaged another caregiver before her but she was unable to cope with the demands. You have to be committed and you have to be willing to really help the patient as they cannot do anything for themselves, she tells me. I’m curious and ask her what taking care of a patient who is incapacitated entails.
Most of such patients are confined to their beds and cannot move on their own, says Vero. “This means that their caregiver has to feed them, give them bed baths, change their diapers and ensure that their catheters are changed every 10 -14 days,” she narrates. “In addition, the caregiver has to ensure that the patient does not get bedsores so they have to help with bed to wheelchair transfers, which ensures the patient does not lie in one position for too long, unnecessarily and is also wheeled outdoors for fresh air and Vitamin D,” she says. It is also important to encourage the patient emotionally to ensure they do not despair without putting up a fight, she adds.
Vero tells me she is not a trained nurse but has learned on the job as she has had to help a number of families in her neighbourhood. I have helped with home nursing care of cancer patients and patients who needed their wounds dressed on a regular basis, she offers. “Two months ago I came to visit Dr Fred and felt I should be the one coming to help Doc,” she says. “I have learned a lot of things in the medical field. We discuss every problem and together with Dr Koske, we get a solution. Dr Fred has accepted his current condition and takes his medication faithfully. He also abides by his nutrition and is very cooperative making it easier to take care of him. As a Clinical Officer, I have learned nursing skills,” says the medic who is based at the nearby Mogogosiek Health Centre. I’m happy he has improved albeit slowly and he can now lift his head and shoulders slightly, she says. As we draw to a close of our conversation, Vero shares the advantages of home recuperation. “The home provides a comfortable environment,” she says. It is peaceful as there are no sirens from ambulances or screams when someone dies like in the hospital, she narrates. Vero also mentions the flexibility of offering different foods that the patient would prefer and the decreased rate of infections as one is not exposed to other patients at home. “For now we are keeping hope alive that Dr Fred will get the necessary funds to enable him travel to India for Stem Cell Therapy, a procedure we hope will help him to be independent like he was before,” she says as she concludes.