Transitioning Healthcare Program Managers in Kuria, Kenya

It’s that time of year again. The maize is growing, the rain has stopped, harvest is near, and we are transitioning. The funny time when 6 (or in my case 12) months of knowledge and learning and experience are supposed to be transferred from one person to another. The first time I gave the program over in February, I had a difficult time. This time, the feeling is different. Perhaps spreading a turnover across three weeks instead of three days is a better plan. Or maybe we’re at a point where we’re clearer on the trajectory.

We just crossed the mid-point of the transition today, and I feel quite good about Lindsay’s progress. She has a fairly good handle of our past programs. She’s reviewed all my old blogs, my copious pictures, and about a million miscellaneous documents. We’ve visited the key locations, and she’s met and immediately memorized the names of the entire healthcare team. Next week, she will be in charge, and I will be following. I can’t wait to not be in charge.

Today, we sketched out our rollout plan for the next year. What we learned is that she’s going to be busy. Very busy. She will continue in my tradition of putting the pedal to the metal. But she will have a path to follow rather than the programmatic off-roading that I did. She will be defining and expanding our community health worker program.

We have decided to learn from other organizations’ successes with community health workers (CHWs, community members chosen to do healthcare work and trained at a basic level). Over the next six months, Lindsay will refine and focus that model, getting it to a functional and fine point by December. Unlike most NGO’s, we don’t just have to have a good CHW model, we have to have a good CHW model that pays for itself. This will be extra challenging. But we have some good ideas, I think the winner of which will be a door-to-door CVS . The workers have to go door to door anyways, and if they sell the stuff the people are already buying, they could get a commission and added incentive to do their job. We have only tested this idea; it will be up to Lindsay to take it out of the program laboratory into the real world.

It is always a challenge to give up something one’s poured so much into. I have spent the last year birthing this program, and now I must adopt it out to someone else who I only met last Monday. Last time in February, it was hard. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it, or never really thought of it as my own ever since then. But this week and last have actually been rather enjoyable and not too stressful.

I think Lindsay will take good care of my baby. I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows up.


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