Today, the hospital that sprang from Erastus Ochieng’s dream provides treatment for more than 1,100 people with HIV annually, as well as people suffering from other diseases. Its staff, including nurses and mid-level providers,is the largest of any rural Kenyan hospital. An ambulance driver is on call to transport patients to facilities in larger towns when needed.
The hospital—which added a new maternity and integrative care wing in 2011, tripling the size of the original clinic—is part of the Lwala Community Alliance, a multidimensional initiative including microenterprise, public health outreach, water and sanitation, and education programs that employs more than 150 people.
Milton Ochieng’ reports that more than 96 percent of babies in and around Lwala are born in a hospital now (double Kenya’s national average) and that infant mortality has been reduced by 50 percent. Far fewer local residents are dying of treatable diseases and conditions like malaria and pneumonia, which once would likely have claimed the lives of the two children Ochieng’ treated today.
When the Erastus Ochieng’ Memorial Lwala Community Hospital opened in 2007, the first breech baby Milton Ochieng’ delivered was a little girl named Valerie—the daughter of his childhood friend Ben, whose mother died on that desperate night long ago.
“Life has a way of coming full circle,” Ochieng’ says.