Tuesday, May 10, 2011

IU House, Wards, and Yoga

I'm trying hard to resist the temptation to rant about the wards today. So instead I'll try to tell you a little more about IU House and life here. IU "House" is really more of a small subdivision or compound about a ten minute walk from the main hospital.

When you drive up to the main gate, you meet Michael, one of the friendliest people I've ever met. He's nicknamed me "Queen of England" after learning my name was Elizabeth. Every day he greets us by name, though sometimes he mixes us up...after all, all Mzungus look alike, I'm told.

Once you enter the main gate into our "subdivision" you arrive at the IU House gate, into the main IU House complex. At the IU gate there are also guards, but their presence seems
mostly a deterrent.

IU House itself is made up of a series of houses. Mackenzie and I stay upstairs in House 1. Downstairs there is a library - filled with medical references and other reading material, where we have our weekly "fireside chats" or group discussions about various topics. This past week the topic was on Kenyan attitudes toward death and dying and I think this week the topic will be on research ethics in resource-limited settings. The library is also where Wycliffe, the Kiswahili tutor usually can be found given lessons.

House 2 is the "Food House" with a large kitchen and a common dining area. Food is served buffet style and is really quite good. Today we had a Kenyan food for lunch, but the menu rotates on a weekly basis. Usually we walk back to IU House from the hospital for lunch in the afternoon, and then return to the hospital to finish up the day's work in the afternoon.

Between House 2 and House 3 is a small "banda" or gazebo, which provides some outdoor seating and is new since my last visit. House 3 contains the IU House office, where the business of maintaining the compound happens on a day-to-day basis, and House 4 has a common computer room and a laundry.

All of the houses have guest rooms upstairs, with shared bathrooms. A few rooms have private bathrooms. I share with Mackenzie, one of the other medicine residents, and we have a fairly large room with two beds (with mosquito netting!) Compared to the student hostel, where I stayed on my previous two trips, it's enormous.

I'll say a little about wards today since I'm including some pictures - our registrar apparently had clinic, so he wasn't around for rounds, so it was the intern and I, as well as our two clinical officer interns (clinical officers are somewhat similar to physician assistants in the US) and some medical students. We had quite a few new patients so it took a while to get through rounds, with the usual hangups of medicines being out of stock and results taking forever, but I did at least feel like I had more of a handle on who patients are and what the major issues are. I think the medical students are starting to warm up to me, or at least are less afraid of me and starting to ask questions.

After work today I came back to IU House and found out that apparently Tuesday here is Yoga Day - Karin, who is an economist working here for a few months is leading yoga classes outside in the "banda" It was certainly a nice way to decompress from the wards and to get a little exercise in before dinner. There are a lot of young active people here, so evening activities include yoga, dodgeball, basketball, soccer, and there are rumors of ultimate frisbee starting up soon.


  1. ultimate frisbee in kenya!!! i love it. thanks for sharing your stories Beth. Hope you are well.

  2. Yay, Michael! I miss the days of walking and getting greeted as "My Namesake".

    Thanks for the updates and the pictures!