|Year Joined MKLM: 2008
City: Matisi Village, Kitale
Project(s): Physician Assistant at St. Raphael’s Health Center in Matisi
People Served: A community of 100,000 people
Project Goal(s): To care for the health needs of the poor and vulnerable people in Matisi, Kenya, as well as being a presence of Christ’s love for all his people.
Kathleen came to MKLM from Monmouth Beach, New Jersey. In her home parish, Church of the Precious Blood in the diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, Kathleen served as a Cantor, a Eucharist Minister, and a church choir member. Kathleen’s talents have complimented a number of semi-professional choirs spanning from as far north as New York City to as far south as Florida, and east to Bermuda, where she lived for 15 years. There, in addition to volunteering for cafeteria duty at her children’s school, Kathleen offered her time to the Bermuda Cancer Society. As a New Jersey resident, she volunteered for Mother Teresa organization.
Kathleen is a graduate of Cornell University Medical College, New York City, where she earned her certification as a Physician Assistant. When she felt her call to mission, she knew she would use her skills and experience in that field to help people overseas, particularly in Africa.
As is true in many parts of Kenya, Matisi is home to a people who live in extreme poverty. Matisi is a slum area of Kitale which has about 100,000 people living in the greater Kitale area. The people of rural Matisi are mostly farmers and are very alive spiritually, involving themselves in the many churches in the area.
When Kathy, a certified Physician Assistant, arrived in Kenya, she began working at Kiminini Cottage Hospital. Kiminini is another town in Kitale that shares similar socio-economic conditions as its neighboring Matisi. In October, 2011, Kathy began to split her time between the St. Raphael’s Health Center in Matisi and the Kiminini hospital.
St. Raphael’s is part of the Diocese of Kitale and its staff has a close working relationship with the Bishop and his staff. St. Raphael’s was severely understaffed, and although the needs at both facilities are great, it was decided that the need for qualified personnel was greater at St. Raphael’s. As of July, 2011, Kathy began working exclusively in that facility.
Since Kathy began working there, St. Raphael’s has increased the number of patients served by offering periodic free blood pressure clinics, free diabetes testing, and free cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings. The Matisi community relies on the care provided to them by the facility. A maternity wing has been built, furnished, and staffed with natal care experts. Each month, approximately 600 to 700 patients avail themselves to the care of the mother/child health clinic.
Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS is very prevalent in Western Kenya, and the two often go hand in hand because either will cause a deficiency in the immune system. Kathy and her teammates have been lobbying the local government health personnel to establish a TB clinic and an HIV/AIDS clinic at St. Raphael’s in order to better serve the Matisi community.
“We shall be His witnesses,” Kathy says of her ministry as a Physician Assistant. “I want to reflect Christ’s presence in a ministry that heals not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.”