Health Sector Boost: Samaritan Purse Unveils New ELWA Hospital
Monrovia – Liberia’s healthcare delivery received a major boost over the weekend when Samaritan Purse International Relief officially dedicated a new 87-bed medical facility worth about US$5 million dollars to the Eternal Love Winning Africa (ELWA), to be used by the people of Liberia.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni Bettie Johnson-Mbayo, [email protected]
“We foresee a period when people will begin to refer patients to ELWA hospital in Liberia. We foresee the time when we will no longer say go to Ghana but people will begin to say go to ELWA” – Dr. Jerry Brown, Medical Director, ELWA Hospital
The newly constructed hospital is a state-of-the-art facility which will provide health services to Liberians at a whole new level. The project which begun back in June 2012, and now completed is expected to enhance the health care delivery of the ELWA hospital.
ELWA Hospital is a health facility founded in 1965 and caters to thousands Liberians. It is also an evangelical, interdenominational, and nonprofit-making Christian primary-care ministry. The hospital is credited for its role in curbing the Ebola virus disease outbreak in Liberia.
Making remarks at the dedication, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the facility as a “monumental example of partnership for love of continuality (that) also has the potential of taking that service from this center to so many of our people in the areas where facilities of this quality will not be found.”
While also referring to the new hospital facility as a representation of partnership, commitment, friendship, and a means of reaching into the farthest places to give services to Liberians because the country doesn’t have the means to improve health services in the rural areas, she hailed Samaritan Purse for always helping Liberia.
Sirleaf thanked Samaritan Purse’s CEO, Franklin Graham, the ELWA hospital and the Liberian construction company that implemented the construction for achieving the new medical facility.
Recalling the unflinching sacrifices the ELWA hospital made during the Ebola crisis, President Sirleaf said: “ELWA begin the core of where people ran for refuge and that refuge was given through the many ELWA staff including Dr. Brown.”
Dr. Jerry Brown, ELWA medical director, said the dedication was a historic day in the existence of the ELWA Hospital and the people of Liberia.
“For too long we have lost our love ones to curable disease, and amendable conditions. We fought at many times using the available resources we have, yet we lost many of them in the battle to death.”
Dr. Brown, who is regarded nationally and internationally for his heroics during the Ebola virus outbreak, called on Liberians and its partners to look beyond – “What we are beholding, and be courageous to provide a better and resilient health system.”
He also called on the government of Liberia to provide subsidy to the hospital to ensure the hospital performs to its fullest potential, saying the facility looks forward to providing better diagnostic and care for patients.
But he cautioned that the new facility will not be able to solve all of the health problems in the country.
“Some of the amendable conditions such as: “Turning patients down, or telling them no place” are going to be solved but not all of them,” he said.
“Some of the reasons for which our people died like not being capable of doing specific investigation is going to be solved…, but again, we will only be capable of managing some of the problems and not all.”
Dr. Brown also used the occasion to flag some of the challenges affecting Liberia’s sector when he named low salaries and incentives of health workers involved in clinical medicines as a major problem.
He outlined the referral of patients from Liberia to neighboring African countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Western countries like USA or England for medical treatment, as a problem and expressed confidence that the situation is at the brink of being minimized.
“We foresee a period when people will begin to refer patients to Liberia, ye ELWA hospital. We foresee the time when we will no longer say go to Ghana but people will begin to say go to ELWA,” he said.
Also speaking at the dedication program, Rev. Franklin Graham, Samaritan Purse’s CEO, said Christians are involved in the provision of medical services because as believers of Jesus, they follow his example, while narrating a story in the Bible when Jesus healed a man with Leprosy.
Recalling the Ebola crisis in the country and the need to improve the country’s health system, Rev. Graham said Liberia has been through some storm and at many time lost hope like in the case of Jesus’ disciples.
“We want this hospital to be a testimony…, we want Liberians to put their fate and trust in the living God and his son,” Rev. Graham said. He praised the Construction Company, workers and doctors of the ELWA hospital.
Reacting to the dedication of the 87 rooms’ health facility, several people attending the program including government officials, nurses and doctors said they were overjoyed and shared overwhelming felicitation while speaking to FrontPageAfrica.
The former director of ELWA hospital, William Elphick recalled witnessing the ground breaking in 2012 and was excited to have witnessed the dedication ceremony on Saturday.
He described the dedication as a “Fruit which derived from a seed planted, while disclosing that ELWA is expected to carry out a resident training program which will empower medical professionals in the country.
“My expectation is the level of training for Liberian health workers mainly Doctors will be improve because we hoping to have a resident training program which will train more Liberian Doctors and medical staff and to improve the health care within Liberia so we say to the Glory be the God,” Elphick said.
He also encouraged the hospital to maintain and keep the facility better for health sanity.
Sarh Benjamin, physician assistant who has worked for the hospital for over 3 years, also expressed his satisfaction for the new health facility.
“I’m happy for the dedication, it will have so much impact because the old hospital had so many difficulties, where there were no beds and patient loads were dense but now I’m happy that this hospital is constructed, it will attend to others,” Benjamin said.
“I feel excited to be a part because today is like history making and I will be able to tell my children I was a part,” said Oretha Slocum, a nurse.
“ELWA has been a long time serving hospital, I am happy because this hospital save my life 1992, all Liberians will have chance to a better health facility, and will not be deny entry.
We have always been set to work especially in the Obstetrics area because we have a lot of pregnant women and I feel happy working for them.”
Liberian Construction Firm Applauded
Many speakers including the Liberian leader lauded the ‘excellent work’ of the Liberian construction firm for effectively executing the project.
CJ Construction Incorporated Senior Managing Partner, James Johnson, said implementing the project was an achievement he craves since his return from the United States some 8 years ago after self-imposed exile due to the civil conflict in Liberia.
“Nothing excites me more than this project, which has allowed me to build capacities, especially for the young people of Liberia who are faced with mounting challenges, but can reach their fullest potentials if given the opportunity,” he said.
The company, according to Kendell Kauffeldt, Country Director of Samaritan Purse, had to compete with several other companies before winning the bid to construct the over US$5 million project.
“When we decided to take on this project, we were committed to have the contractor being a Liberian and through a bidding process CJ Construction won the bid…, and you will see the handy work when you go on your tour you will the handy work of the this man and his company,” Kauffeldt said at the program.
For the firm, all the assertions that Liberian firms are incapable of delivering and that firms own by foreigners are more productive, are all myth.
“I can honestly say to you today that this is all a myth.”
“We want to say to you that as Liberians and not foreigners, we managed and built all the components of this construction project. And we are extremely proud to say that,” Johnson said.