Liberia: This Is One Time That Bong County Needs You, Madam Vice President

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IT IS SAID THAT it is in the time of trouble or need that one gets to know one’s true friends. Some have even succinctly put it: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” This means that a friend who helps you when you really need help is a true friend.

THIS IS THE CASE with the only famous referral hospital in Bong County — Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing. 

OVER THE LAST SEVERAL WEEKS, this newspaper has reported stories on how the hospital has been seriously struggling. Because of this hard time that has fallen on Phebe, there have been deaths that are directly linked to it. 

BENNEL NEBLETT, a 2016 graduate of Cuttington University, and two premature babies died in Phebe Hospital because it cannot afford fuel to run its generators, an official told this newspaper, recently. The three patients died because they could not be operated on without electricity.

THEY NEEDED OXYGEN, which is provided through electricity-powered cylinders, according to a hospital official who insisted anonymity for fear of reprisal.

“THE SITUATION IS WORSENING,” the doctor said, insisting that if nothing is done to remedy the situation the death toll of poor patients who can’t afford to buy fuel during emergency situations could increase.

BEN’S SISTER only identified as Beatrice told FrontPageAfrica that the family was trying to raise money to purchase 10 gallons of fuel as requested by doctors when her brother passed. “When we brought my brother to the hospital, we waited for an hour before the doctors told us to buy fuel for the generator because the hospital was dark. We didn’t have the money to buy the 10 gallons of fuel the doctor told us to buy; so we decided to call family members for help and it was during that process our brother passed,” she had said, sadly.

DESPITE THE HOSPITAL’S administration not confirming or denying Beatrice’s claim, Mr. Victor Padmore, acting medical director of the hospital only told FrontPageAfrica that the hospital was facing fuel shortage.

PHEBE HOSPITAL, through Padmore, has warned that patients who require surgery and emergency services would be made to pay for the cost of fuel. According to him, it would help sustain the services at the hospital.

THE HOSPITAL should also hold a special place in the heart of the Vice President, who was raised as a child on the hospital’s compound, under the watchful eyes of her parents, Mr. Moses Y. Howard and Mrs. Nora Giddings-Howard. In fact, both of the VP’s parents were professional health workers, who died in service to the people of Bong County and are buried at the Phebe Compound.

THE HOSPITAL also lacks an adequate supply of surgical gloves and the attendants of the patients have to buy these things from the markets.

THE ACTING MEDICAL DIRECTOR of the hospital, Dr. Jefferson Sibley, said, “It is the worst thing for this hospital to be short of gloves. It is not possible for a doctor of a referral hospital to touch a patient without gloves. The poor patients are left with no option but to buy it from the market.”

THIS IS SAD FOR A COUNTY, which did so much for the ruling establishment in the 2017 Presidential and General Elections. The county gave the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) its Vice President, Madam Jewel Howard Taylor. 

IN FACT, THIS VICE PRESIDENT, who is a prominent daughter of Bong County, was born into the ‘royal’ household of Kerkula Giddings of Sanoyea District. It is said that it was during King Giddings’ reign that the script of the Kpelle language, which is the largest tribe in Liberia, was written. 

THE HOSPITAL should also hold a special place in the heart of the Vice President, who was raised as a child on the hospital’s compound, under the watchful eyes of her parents, Mr. Moses Y. Howard and Mrs. Nora Giddings-Howard. In fact, both of the VP’s parents were professional health workers, who died in service to the people of Bong County and are buried at the Phebe Compound.

MADAM VICE PRESIDENT, we are going to play the devil’s advocate and pretend that you don’t know what’s happening at Phebe. The hospital is crumbling right under your watchful eyes, Madam Vice President.

PHEBE USED to be supported, too, by the Lutheran Church. We don’t think the Lutherans are still really supporting as evidence by the shortages of petty materials, including surgical hand gloves and threads for stitching wounds. It is a Lutheran-built health facility, which was opened 99 years ago in 1921. Its School of Nursing was the first nursing school in the country. This hospital used to be the only beacon of hope for nearly all Liberians residing in Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties.

IT USED TO ALSO be the home of some of Liberia’s finest Medical doctors, including former famous Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale.

THE HOSPITAL, like all of the main fabric of the nation, is seriously still reeling from the shocks of the nation’s 15 years senseless civil war. Nevertheless and in spite of it being looted, like what happened to it on September 23, 1994, it still stood as a symbol of pliability and a major provider to the nation’s healthcare delivery. Sadly, this is no longer the case now with Phebe. 

IT IS NOW A PUBLIC health facility, which should be funded by the Liberian Government. Sadly, this Government has fallen on providing adequate support to the hospital, which provides medical care for Central and Northwestern Liberia.

MADAM VICE PRESIDENT, you know Phebe hospital and its compound, too, well. We think you own it to the county, yea the hospital. Bong County is your fallback position to your political career.

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