History of FAME Medical
It all began in 2002, when founders Frank Artress and Susan Gustafson had their own medical crisis while traveling in Tanzania (read their story here or watch the video below). Starting with a mobile medical service to remote locations in Tanzania, FAME now operates a full service medical facility in Karatu, Tanzania.
Mobile Medical Service & Outreach
In 2005, FAME launched a Mobile Medical Service designed to provide medical care for marginalized and impoverished communities living in the most remote parts of the Karatu District and greater Arusha region. The mobile medical team, consisting of clinicians, nurses, community outreach workers and health educators, takes medical care to the people – serving the poorest of the poor who simply do not have the resources to travel to the nearest health facility.
We began construction of the FAME Medical Outpatient Clinic in October of 2007 and opened our doors in April of 2008. The Clinic is located in the District of Karatu, a rural District located in the Northern Highlands of Tanzania. We provide outpatient primary care for underserved populations in our area. Our patient traffic has grown to roughly 1600 visits every month. While our catchment area continues to expand, our largest patient groups are the Iraqw from the Karatu District and the Maasai people from the neighboring District of Ngorongoro.
We began construction of a new laboratory in early 2009. The facility became operational in April of 2011. Located adjacent to the FAME Medical Outpatient Clinic, we offer our patients a wide range of diagnostic services. The FAME Medical laboratory is the only lab within a 140-kilometer radius with these diagnostic capabilities and is playing an enormous role in helping our doctors accurately diagnose and treat their patients.
Our expansion from outpatient clinic to hospital in September of 2012, represents a huge milestone in our evolving vision. A 24-bed inpatient facility, with an emergency room and two operating rooms, we can now serve our most seriously ill and injured patients “in-house”, which is a huge step forward – one that is especially meaningful for us, given that most of our patients do not have the resources to pursue care outside their home district.
Other Infrastructure Developments
In 2009 we completed construction on two volunteer cottages, enabling us to house volunteers from overseas medical communities right on-campus. Then in 2012, a third volunteer house was completed, which enabled us to begin hosting long-term volunteers in addition to those staying the minimum of 3 weeks.
We also built a Cantina, where our staff and volunteers eat lunch together every day. Two main staples are beans and greens and both are grown right on the FAME campus.
As a 24/7 medical facility in a rural area, housing on campus for medical team members is essential, particularly in emergency situations. In 2010, the first two staff houses were completed. In response to growing patient numbers and increased staffing levels, two additional 4-plex units were built, and staff doctors and nurses began moving into these on-campus accommodations in August of 2014.
With the opening of the hospital, we quickly realized that we needed a safe and cost effective way to provide meals for our inpatients. Most hospitals in Tanzania, particularly those in rural areas, do not feed patients. Rather, family members are responsible for providing their loved one’s food. We opted to do it differently – to take pressure off families and to insure our patient’s nutritional needs were being met. With the opening of the hospital in 2012, we constructed a building appropriate for a food service. We then leased the building to a local business man who now provides our patients with meals included in their hospital bill but also serves breakfast, lunch and snacks to tourists, volunteers, and patient family members.
Electrical and Water Infrastructure
In rural Tanzania, both electrification and water availability can be major challenges. We remained off the electrical grid for our first three years as an Outpatient Clinic, powering our facility entirely with solar power. Having outgrown our solar system, we opted to bring the electrical grid up to FAME in 2011. In 2013, we added a 50KVA F.G. Wilson generator to insure patient safety even during power outages. In 2012, we completed phase one of a rain water collection and storage system that complements our deep well borehole.