STEP Story: Mary Achieng Ogada

Community Development Student, Moi University

Railways Dispensary (KCH Peripheral Site), May 13 – June 30, 2018

Unlike most STEP participants, I joined FACES without any medical background, being a third-year community development student at Moi University. My main objective while joining the STEP program was to learn and have a first-hand experience in the comprehensive care centre and be part of the team that combines community health campaigns, home-based tracking and both scheduled and non-scheduled clinical visits to ensure uptake of HIV testing and care in Kisumu County. I was based in Railways Dispensary.

My first week at the facility was mainly introduction to all areas at the facility, mainly the CCC. My first station was at the reception. I learned the patient flow at the facility by shadowing the reception desk, from which I moved to the next stations: vitals, adherence, and home visits according to the facility duty timetable.

Being that I had never gone for a home visit, the home visits provided insight of the challenges being faced by both the comprehensive care centre in taking care of its patients and the patients themselves. From clients who were not allowed out of their working stations, to those who lived in slums where open sewers are right in front of the houses, to houses where meals are hard to come by, and to homesteads where alcohol brewing was the source of income to posh residential estates of Kisumu and to dusty villages. All these experiences led to a better understanding of these clients, and the home visits achieved results. After these home visits, there was improved adherence evidenced by viral suppression in most of the patients.

My experience in FACES as a STEP participant has taught me the importance of commitment. The comprehensive care centre of Railways Dispensary - despite working under a minimal budget - achieved viral suppression in most of the clients this can only be achieved through teamwork and commitment.