Gigi Stoll: Medical Journal, Kenya 2012

Gigi Stoll, who we’ve previously featured in our Leica Portrait video series, is the official photographer for ISMS Operation Kids. This is the first entry in Gigi’s series about her work with ISMS. She shares some of her images from their recent trip and talks about the group’s work at the Sio Port Clinic in Kenya.

Writing as the official photographer for ISMS Operation Kids, I believe our recent medical mission to Kenya proved even more successful with our first mobile clinical team created. The team consisted of two pediatricians and one advanced family nurse practitioner. Our team treated over 350 patients in three days. The most common diseases seen and treated were malaria, ringworm, scabies and malnutrition, ear and eye infections. Some of these infections were so severe that there was potential for loss of sight and hearing if they were not treated properly and immediately. The clinical team was equipped with the necessary antibiotics and various medications to ensure successful treatment for the children. Our team also taught health education and disease prevention.

Sio Port sub-district Hospital is located in Western Kenya (Busia County) in the Samia district just off of Lake Victoria. This hospital serves a patient population of 200 patients per day, a large number of which are children and women. The hospital is run by a visiting doctor and supported by a clinical officer and a few nurses. They are very understaffed and medication and supplies are scarce, while the population that surrounds the area is extremely poor.

There is a very functional protocol for the evaluation and treatment of malaria, which was the most severe illness our team treated and the most common cause for hospitalization/complications and even death in children in that area. Surgery and more life threatening cases were transported to the regional hospital. Also, on the first day there our team discovered a baby with a cleft palate. On the second day we were able to transport the mother and baby back to Kakamega Provincial General Hospital where our plastic surgeon Dr. Stephanie Cohen repaired her lip. Our team director Colleen Hekemian paid for her transportation back home. This was very helpful especially knowing what a barrier the cost of transportation is to them. I don’t believe the baby would have been fixed any other way. The team had to drive 2 1/2 hours each way over a severely pot-holed, dirt road just to get to the clinic.

The team also treated a lot of skin infections, dysentery, pneumonia, allergic eye problems and fungal infections. The one medicine the pharmacy did not have, and the people could not afford, was griseofulvin. It treated the head fungus that all the kids seemed to have. The mothers were very grateful for the medications that our team provided.

For the team’s second mission in a row to Kenya, I was again touched by the strength and determination for survival of these beautiful people. The mothers and children always wore their best outfit to the clinic and made us delicious meals in appreciation. I will never forget the culture, conversations and stories about their lives. The soulful eyes and smiles of these people will remain a perpetual imprint on my mind forever.

-Gigi Stoll

You can see more of Gigi’s work on her website, www.gigistoll.com. You can also connect with Gigi on her Facebook page and on Twitter.