Munson Health
Tuesday, July 08, 2014 - Kenyan Physician Visits Munson Medical Center

Franklin Ikunda, MD, enjoyed his visit to the Munson Family Practice Residency Program.

Kenyan Physician Visits Munson Medical Center
PCEA Chogoria Hospital hopes to start Family Practice Residency Program

Caring for patients at PCEA Chogoria Hospital, not far from the base of Mount Kenya and about 140 miles northeast of Nairobi, offers challenges not experienced at Munson Medical Center.

At Chogoria medical charts remain mostly on paper, there are dozens of patients for one doctor to see each day, lab tests take a lot longer, and consultations are not available on a timely basis.

“Many of the patients I have seen being cared for here would be dead in Kenya,” said Franklin Ikunda, MD, chief medical officer at the hospital. “If you need a cardiologist you have to wait a month to refer to the next clinic which is 80 kilometers away. The patient many not be able to afford to make the trip.”

A neurologist is 200 kilometers away.

Dr. Ikunda visited the Munson Family Residency Program late last month to investigate the program as he prepares to launch a four-year Family Practice Residency Program in Chogoria next year. He plans to start with two students.

Munson Family Practice Residency Program started sending residents to Chogoria after a suggestion in 2010 from Cardiologist David MacIntosh, DO, FACC, who takes Michigan State University osteopathic medical students there each year. Munson’s residency program now has an ongoing collaboration with the hospital for an international medicine experience for residents.

“We have sent four teams to Chogoria and now we are privileged to have our second physician from Chogoria visit Munson. Dr. Ikunda is an excellent ambassador from Chogoria,” said David Klee, MD, FAAFP, a member of the faculty at the residency program. “Though the Munson Family Medicine Residency brought him to Munson to help develop his skills as a family medicine educator, during his time here he touched many people’s lives.”

While in Traverse City, Dr. Ikunda spent time shadowing members of the Family Practice Residency Program staff as well as with gastroenterologist Kurt Sanford, MD, who also has volunteered in Chogoria.

“Having Franklin here in person brought the abstract idea of this collaboration into a reality. His genuine spirit, openness to new ideas, and willingness to tackle innovative projects left a lasting impression on not only our faculty, staff, and residents, but also many other Traverse City residents,” Dr. Klee said.

Before leaving, Dr. Ikunda offered special thanks to Graduate Medical Education Director J. William Rawlin, DO, and Family Practice Residency physicians for making the trip a success. He singled out thanks to Roger Gerstle, MD, and Dr. Klee “who made me to live like a king in the U.S.” as well as to Kelly Clark, MD, and the residents who have visited Chogoria.

“I have seen the way (faculty here) teach and it has helped me develop expectations of what I should do and need to strive to do,” he said. “The experiences here were great.”

In Kenya, family practice physicians practice at church or government hospitals with responsibility for patients in medical and surgical wards, the Emergency Department, and outpatient clinics. They also serve in administration of the hospital and non-governmental organizations.

At Chogoria, Dr. Ikunda makes rounds in the hospital through the various wards each morning and also responds to needs in the ER. In the afternoons he works in a clinic.

“We have much more HIV than you have here with a lot of complication and comorbidities,” he said. “We also have TB in all forms.”

Providers from the U.S. who visit quickly understand the technology of medicine is limited.

“We don’t have the luxury of many specialists, so you manage the patients with the limited resources you have,” he said. “They see how we do it with our resources and they get surprised.”

Dr. Klee said he has heard from Dr. Ikunda since his return to Chogoria.

“He has communicated that his hospital administration is strongly behind continued development of our collaboration and excited about what the future holds for the expanding relationship between both Munson and PCEA Hospital as well as Chogoria and Traverse City,” Dr. Klee said.