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Published: May 24, 2024

Dr. Chadwink Ochieng Omondi: award-winning doctor brings his people-centered leadership home

“My leadership philosophy is simple: I believe people are important. It’s people that drive systems, so I focus on having meaningful relationships with people. This will snowball into projects, plans, and purposes–with the amount of zeal required to do them well.”
– Dr. Chadwink Ochieng Omondi

Enter Lwala Community Hospital at 6:00am, and save for the rooster in the adjacent garden declaring morning, the space is quiet. Chadwink Ochieng Omondi–Lwala’s Medical Officer In-charge–is already at his desk, getting a start on the myriad of tasks that make up his role as the hospital’s first-ever full time resident medical doctor. “One of my primary goals in the first 3 months of occupying this position was to know every staff member by name,” he says, bearing a bright smile. “I must first know who people are before I attempt to lead them.”

In just a few months, Chadwink–aka Dr. Chad–has overseen changes at the hospital resulting in improved efficiency. One metric is the hospital seeing a drastic cut in referrals. When he arrived in October 2023, clinical staff were referring 150-160 patients monthly to other facilities for higher level care; now it’s down to about 70 referrals per month. Having a full-time medical doctor who focuses on mentoring the team has contributed to this cut in referrals. “Together, the staff and I have created a system change, and now I am consulted about all referrals. This has strengthened both confidence and skills. Even some c-sections have been prevented, and through mentorship, we’ve reviewed guidelines for treatment and raised the standard of care.”

In his short time at Lwala, Dr. Chad has also initiated a high-risk pregnancy clinic, which identifies women in need of extra care during pregnancy and enables regular connection between these women and facility-based providers, leading to better maternal and neonatal outcomes. He is available for consultation even after his working hours, and the team knows they can brainstorm solutions for critical patients with him. “Dr. Chad has taught us how to take a more holistic approach toward our patients. For example, he’s training staff to incorporate mental health screening in the management of patients,” says Karen Lisa Boyi, a Clinical Officer In-Charge. “He is empathic and will always dig deeper to find the root cause of medical conditions, which often has both mental and emotional components.”

Chadwink grew up a mere stone’s throw from Lwala Community Hospital and coincidentally attended the same high school as Lwala founders, Milton and Fred Ochieng’. His success in secondary education led him to pursue a robust medical training, earning his Medical degree and a Bachelors in Human Anatomy at the University of Nairobi School of Medicine. While in school, he served as treasurer in the Association of Medical Students of the University of Nairobi, leading nearly 3,000 students.

After Medical School, Dr. Chad worked as the medical officer in charge of maternity at Nazareth Hospital in Kiambu, a town outside of Nairobi, while also teaching part-time at the University of Nairobi. “What was instilled in me during that time working in the maternity clinic was the dignity and sanctity of the delivery process. Being in the room with a mother and baby is a special thing. Seeing mothers experience recurrent pregnancy loss is tragic, so we intervene in every way we can. We treated a couple who had battled infertility for 10 years–and they had their first child.”

When Dr. Chad arrived at Lwala Community Hospital for final interviews before being hired, he experienced a warm welcome and noticed that this respectful approach to pregnancy and delivery was already in practice here, made evident by the mother-and-baby-friendly initiatives that were part of the system. “There’s a proverb in the Luo tribe, ‘Dalau ok rwenyi,’ which means you will always recognize your home,” he says. “It is your background that shapes your future. My wife and I had been living in the big city, and we were about to have our first child, so we knew moving back to the village would be a big change for us. But I knew when I interviewed with Lwala, that it was time to come home.”

“Being from the community, Dr. Chad understands the complexities of the relationships and this allows him to meet the people of Lwala where they are. He is a great community advocate and patient advocate.”
- Milton Ochieng’, Co-Founder

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