Mercy's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bockarie Kanneh has been on staff at Mercy Hospital since October 2013. Prior to coming to Mercy, Dr. Kanneh was educated and practiced medicine in Russia, and served as the Chief Medical Officer of Bo Government Hospital. After retiring from the Ministry of Health, he joined Mercy 10/15/13. Dr. Kanneh is married, and has four children and "many" grandchildren. He is Muslim, but all four of his children are Christian - a fact he's quite pleased and proud of.
Q: Why did you want to become a doctor?
A: When I was in high school, my mother had a terrible headache. She claimed, as many did in that time, it was very common, that her skull had split open. This idea started the interest for me and I began my studies in the medical field. After medical school, I realized that what she thought was a cracked skull was actually completely fine. It was just a myth that people believed.
Q: Where did you go to medical school?
A: I went to medical school in Kharkov (now a town in Ukraine) in the Soviet Union (now Russia). It was a government scholarship from the Soviet Union. You had to apply and do an interview. There were probably around 10-15 of us in my class and people came from different countries. We were there for seven years. The first two years were very difficult. We had to learn Russian and all our textbooks and lectures were in Russian.
Q: What do you love most about being a doctor?
A: To be specific, when I came out I studied general medicine. I was at a main referral hospital in Freetown and got experience in obstetrics and gynecology. It really inspired me and I started working at Marie Stopes for many years. I could be in the operating theatre for hours. I really enjoyed working there. I like maternal and child health. When you hand a woman her baby and they say "thank you." That "thank you," money cannot buy.
Q: What do you find most challenging?
A: When in surgery you go in and do your very best and the patient still dies. You feel guilty, but can’t even identify the reason and it is quite distressing. Also, I remember one case. The woman was a hemophiliac and had already had two cesarean sections. Her last doctor told her she should not have another child because of the blood clots. But I didn’t know any of this. So every time I would try to put the needle in she would just bleed. It was horrible (he tears up a little, remembering).
Q: What advice would you give a young person in Sierra Leone who wants to pursue a career in medicine?
A: Do general medicine and specialize in whatever area is an interest to you. It is the interest you have in treating patients that makes all the difference. Also, a very good doctor is one who is always available, always on call. You can be a great doctor and have a wonderful facility, but if you are not available it does not matter.
Gbessey was brought to Mercy Hospital with alarmingly high blood pressure. A diabetic, she was so weak she was unable to walk. After a few days of blood pressure medication and proper diet, she was feeling much better and was able to stand and walk on her own. “It was good I can go to Mercy. I was so afraid that I would not be well again. Thank God, I am much better now."
It is with deepest sorrow that we provide this update on the baby Abu-Bakarr, who we wrote about yesterday. Abu was brought to Mercy Hospital after being referred by Mercy's Outreach team. Severely malnourished, Abu struggled to breathe, and the Mercy staff worked diligently through the day yesterday to try to save his life. They were unsuccessful and Abu passed away at 8:40 last night.
There are many malnourished children just like Abu in the villages that are served by Mercy's Nutrition program. Mercy strives to get to each village on a monthly basis to provide these children with the nutritional supplementation they need to survive. Your support of the Mercy nutrition program is so critical to saving lives.
Thank you again for standing with us in prayer. Your prayers for Abu were a source of solace to him and his family, who are comforted in the knowledge that he is in heaven now and no longer suffering.
We would like to ask our prayer warrior friends to please pray for baby Abu Bakkar, an 8 month old baby who is only 7.7 lbs. His mother died during childbirth and his father has been unable to properly care for him because he is unemployed.
Mercy identiifed him on an outreach last week and begged the family to come to the hospital, which they did yesterday. Abu is doing a little better today, but he is not out of the woods yet. The staff are doing everything in our power to save his life. The child is severely malnourished and they are trying to feed him. They are testing him for other things, but for now the malnutrition is the only apparent issue. There is no dependable prognosis for now. It's not encouraging that his weight is like a newborn, but there is still some room for hope. It is going to be very touch and go for a while. His breathing seems normal today, yesterday it was not.
Please keep him, his family, and the staff in your prayers.
In early June, Mercy Hospital was pleased to welcome a number of new staff: Deborah Boima (Community Health Officer), Theresa Swaray (State Certified Midwife),Winifred Smart, Hawa Jalloh, and Mariama Bangalie (Maternal and Child Health Aides), and Aminata Turary (laundress). These new "wonder women," have brought a great deal of enthusiasm and energy to Mercy in just one short month.
Theresa is happy to be on the Mercy team, "I like working at Mercy. Everyone is very nice. This week I am leading devotion. It is a new experience for me and I am a little nervous but I enjoy it!" Deborah agrees, adding, "I just got off of night duty and I am so tired, but it was a good night. The patients are doing well and recovering. So far I am enjoying Mercy."
"It already feels like a family, Hawa shared. "We have only been here a few weeks but everyone is so kind and I feel very welcome."
Hospital Administrator, Jinnah Lahai is pleased to welcome these women to Mercy. "They are really doing well. Those in maternity were a little bit intimidated at first after hearing about the great reputations of the maternity department. It is a big role to play. But they are really doing well."
By David Musa, Child Support Program Manager
The program started in the Afternoon with prayers done by Rev. Edna Boima. Other invitees were the Doctor, Manager and Matron from Mercy Hospital, Fudia and her team From MTC, the CSP, FCP children and parents of the Residential Children and the entire staff of CRC. Power point presentations was done on the success of the CRC over the past 17 years and recognition of three foundation staff, Lucy Jusu, Naomi Kabba and Mabel Mustapha. Statements were also made by the CRC Director, Mercy and Former staff of CRC.
A remarkable gift was presented to the CRC through the HCW Director of Medical Programs, Kim Sprout. At the end of the session in the great hall, all participants assembled behind the peace hut where this gift was planted - A COCONUT. The highlight of the program was a football match between the male staff and residential boys, in which it ended 2-1 to the staff. Refreshment was also provided at the end of the program.
Research shows that when residential children's programs provide ample opportunities for families and children to spend time together prior to reunification, the transition to living together and the reintegration of the child into the community is much more successful.
Efforts to increase interaction between residential children and their 'forever families' have recently stepped up a notch at the CRC. Beginning in May, parents/future caregivers of the children have been invited to participate in two regularly scheduled CRC activities each month (such as Family Fun Time, Sports, or Game Night for example). On Wednesday, May 31, family members attended the CRC's regular Wednesday devotions. "It was so wonderful to see children and their families attending our Wednesday devotions. They are all happy that they will be going to see their families and friends around time as planned," said Director Mohamed Nabieu. "Children, families and staff members were all hugging and getting to know each other."
Mercy awarded certificates to the most dedicated staff members for the past two months -- hospital matron Sister Augusta for April, and driver Solomon Alieu for May.
Sister Augusta was awarded as the most dedicated staff because she is very hardworking, yet always takes the time to counsel staff and help them when issues arise. Most of the staff, especially the younger nurses, see her as a mother figure. She is passionate about her job and always goes above and beyond to help others. Despite her busy schedule (she started her Masters of Public Health classes this week as a recipient of the Ginny Wagner Scholarship), she still finds time to cook Abu Bakarr his favorite meals.
Solomon Alieu works very hard and makes an effort to do things outside of his job description. When he takes the team on outreaches, he always helps load and unload the vehicle, even though this is not something he is required to do. He also makes sure to keep the vehicle very clean, but never asks Mercy to provide soap or other cleaning supplies, taking the cost out of his salary instead.
The Child Rescue Centre has some new residents - chickens! With the advice of Njala Agricultural Professor, Roland Suluku, and under the supervision of Head Gardener, Kinnie Earnest, the CRC has added a chicken coop to the CRC Garden program. Twenty laying hens were recently installed in the brand new coop, and are busily supplying the CRC with eggs. Roland provided advice and counsel on the size of the coop, the number of chickens (the coop will ultimately hold as many as 40, but the CRC opted to start small with just 20 hens to start) and he vaccinated each of the hens. Roland also spent time training Kinnie and CRC staff and children in the care and feeding of these new CRC residents. Under the careful supervision of Kinnie and the CRC staff, the children will participate in helping to care for these chickens.
According to Roland, the hens will begin laying eggs by next month, and can lay eggs for 18 months consecutively. The eggs will be used as food at the CRC, and extras will be shared with families enrolled in the microfinance program who may benefit from the eggs, either as food or as a business. As a part of the partnership between Mercy and CRC, patients at Mercy who may need extra protein might also benefit from the eggs. The children are learning a lot about agriculture through the CRC Garden.
On Tuesday, May 30, Mercy had a send-off ceremony for seven staff retiring at the end of May. Reverend Charley and Hospital Administrator Jinnah Lahai gave speeches praising these staff members for their years of service.
Sister Taiwo and Comfort Beah have been at Mercy since it opened in 2007, and have seen Mercy through many changes.
Three of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) aides, Comfort Beah, Mary Jabaty, and Josephine Simbo, as well as Sister Taiwo, have worked hard to ensure that throughout the 10 years of Mercy’s existence they have performed hundreds of deliveries and never had a single maternal death. Additionally, the maternity team has been a very active component of the Outreach Department, often leading the outreaches as well as holding prenatal clinics at Mercy multiple times per week.
Morrison Amara, the Community Health Officer (CHO) in charge of the malaria program traveled on numerous outreaches during his time at Mercy, as well as ably assisting the doctor in the small operating room doing hernia repairs.
Sidi Saffa, the Pharmacy Technician, had become very well known as always being the first staff member to arrive everyday. He was always in his office early, sometimes as early as 6:00 AM in order to organize his workspace and get the pharmacy ready for the day. He underwent an operation in December and was still back at work within a minimal amount of time, despite being offered paid sick leave.
Agnes John, the Laundress was solely in charge of all of the laundering needed by Mercy, all done by hand, of course! Agnes washed all the bed linens, scrubs, and various other necessities needed to keep the hospital running and hygienic.
Mercy Hospital and HCW are deeply grateful to these staff for their years of service and dedication. We pray for them to find peace and enjoyment in their retirement, and wish them well for the future.