SCH started as a dream over 40 years ago when the founder, Dr. Khama Odera Rogo, was admitted to the medical school at the University of Nairobi. The more he learned about healthcare and health services, the bigger the gap he encountered every time he went to his rural home for vacation. It was clear to him that children and mothers were dying in numbers that were unacceptable. Most of the causes of these deaths were preventable. It was also clear to him that people were dying very early and old men and women were reducing in number in the village.
The reality of this hit him during his fourth year of medical school when he lost his father who had a stroke and could not reach Kisumu in time for help. He passed away at home while awaiting transport. But then even after passing away, the nearest morgue was in Kisumu. His body had to be taken there at great expense to the family.
On graduating from the University of Nairobi, he was posted to Coast Provincial General Hospital in Mombasa for internship. He later served as the District Medical Officer for Health in Kwale District. In this position, he came face to face with the realities of the paucity of health care and also realized that one could not wait for the government to provide everything. This reality was further strengthened when he became a gynecologist and started teaching at the University of Nairobi. By that time, the spectra of high maternal and neonatal mortality was obvious. Interestingly, his home district, Siaya, had one of the highest child maternal mortality in Kenya.
The urgency to establish a high quality health facility in the village was further reinforced by two separate incidences. First, was the demise of his grandmother, Kezia, who died after being denied treatment in the local government health facility because she was “too old” and was “finishing medicine for her grandchildren” This is what she was told by the nurse at the local health center. She never went back for treatment.
The second incident was an elderly gentleman in the village who had fallen off his bed and fractured his hip. He received no care until it was brought to Dr. Rogo’s attention that the old man had been laying on the floor for several months. He was creeping in pain to obtain food and drink. Dr. Rogo went to see him and carried him in his car to the District Hospital. There was no doctor in place, no painkillers and no bed space. The old man was admitted on a mattress on the floor. Dr. Rogo left him at the hospital after receiving assurance from the staff that they would give the necessary care. He came back 3 weeks later and found that nothing had been done. In fact, the old man was in more pain and in worse condition than he had been at home. He pleaded with Dr. Rogo to take him home and provide him with care in the village until he passes away. Dr. Rogo did just that.
The old man eventually died while Dr. Rogo was away and left two instructions to be passed to Dr. Rogo. The first instruction was that he should not be buried until Dr. Rogo came back to the village. The second was that Dr. Rogo should build a hospital in the village so that no one else would go through what he experienced. Dr. Rogo attended his funeral and promised to do just that.
SCH is therefore born out of a very serious need in Dr. Rogo’s part of the world in response to the pain that his people go through to access the most basic healthcare and most importantly, the family and individual tragedies described above. The location of the hospital is on part of the land that was owned originally by the Mzee (old man) who had the hip fracture. This is how Dr. Rogo’s vision of rural Africa with access to the highest quality and affordable healthcare was born.
In 1994, with support from his wife, Dr. Lucie Rogo, and encouragement from his mother, Seruya Rogo, the construction of SCH commenced thereby realizing one person’s dream of a community hospital. The hospital was officially opened on April 11, 1998 by the then Provincial Commissioner of Nyanza Province, Mr. Peter Raburu. Bishop Wasonga of the ACK Maseno West Diocese led prayers of dedication. Hundreds of villagers, friends, professionals and dignitaries, including members of Parliament and the former Prime Minister of Kenya, Hon. Raila Odinga were present.