Lead contractor, Maada Salia handed the keys to Mercy Hospital’s new OR wing over to the staff on Monday, November 5th. Over the weekend of November 1st, the Mercy staff worked tirelessly to load in the equipment and supplies delivered in September by Project CURE, and ensured that the wing was ready for operations. Dr. Boima, a well-known surgeon in Sierra Leone and Dr. Amara’s mentor declared the wing and its two operating theatres “excellent” and “the nicest in Bo.” “I am very happy that the OR is now completed which means that the referral cases for surgery such as obstructed delivery and c-sections will now be treated here, “ said Dr. Amara, Mercy’s chief medical officer. “Before, the space was so limited we were very restricted in what we were able to do. Now, there are many more possibilities to help the community.” Head Matron Sister Augusta Kpanebaum agreed, “We have been waiting for this day a long time. We will be able to attend to cases instead of referring, especially maternity. We are so ready to go and want to thank our partners for the initiative. We are all very grateful!"
On Thursday, November 8, the first surgeries to be performed in the new OR were done by doctors affiliated with the Praise Foundation team in conjunction with trainings they are providing to Mercy staff in critical care management, obstetrics, and ultrasound. Like all medical professionals working at Mercy, PRAISE Foundation staff were required to provide medical credentials information to the Medical and Dental Counsel prior to performing surgeries at Mercy. Over the course of the first two days of operations in the new OR wing, 56 surgeries were performed by the Praise Foundation team with assistance from the Mercy staff, most of these were hernia operations and other minor surgical procedures.
Mercy will operate through the end of 2018 on a limited capacity, as they await the arrival of a blood bank and an anesthesia machine later this year. Until these important pieces of equipment arrive, Mercy will not be able to perform major surgeries, but will continue to provide the surgeries that it always has, now in a new, state-of-the-art surgical facility. Likewise, Mercy staff does not yet have the expertise to perform more complex surgeries such as c-sections. Dr. Amara will continue to work with Dr. Boima (a COMAHS professor and surgeon) to assist in surgeries beyond his current level of expertise, and now that those surgeries can be performed at Mercy, other staff will benefit in training opportunities as well.
Qualified surgeons who wish to perform surgeries at Mercy with Dr. Amara’s assistance, will be welcomed for the purpose of providing Mercy staff with teaching opportunities. This will include medical teams from overseas from time to time. Nonprofits utilizing Mercy OR for their own medical missions will do trainings as part of the privilege of performing surgeries at Mercy, and leave behind unused equipment and supplies for future use by Mercy. The PRAISE team has already demonstrated the value of simply having the facility with the collaborative spirit of Mercy Hospital available in their community.
Additional training for Mercy staff is also being planned. Project CURE is scheduled to provide training in obstetrics and critical care, and Dr. Amara and Matron August Kpanebaum will be attending GBGM training in obstetrics and Cesarean-sections in February of 2019. The official ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on January 18, 2019.
Since it is rainy season, malaria rates are higher than usual. Eleven-year-old Steven came in to Mercy with malaria and was very weak and restless. Since receiving treatment, he is feeling much better. His father, Paul Ngaojia says, “Our family is thanking God for Mercy Hospital. They have done so much for us."
One year old Moserray was recently brought to Mercy Hospital recently by his extremely concerned mother and father. The Mercy staff quickly observed that Moserray was extremely malnourished and admitted for evaluation and treatment. In addition to malnutrition, Moserray was diagnosed with malaria. He had a high fever and difficulty breathing.
The staff treated Moserray for malaria and referred him to the Government Hospital, where he will receive more intensive care for the malnutrition than Mercy can provide. The government hospital often runs out of critical medicines, so Mercy will ensure the family has everything their child needs to heal.
Isatu is 30 weeks pregnant and enrolled in Mercy Hospital's prenatal program. During a routine check she was found to be extremely anemic, a problem for anyone but especially dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn babies. Isatu was treated for the anemia and is now feeling much better.
“I appreciate the maternity unit for their help with my problem. I want to thank God for their efforts in saving my life," Isatu says. She successfully delivered her first child at Mercy and trusts the staff to take good care of her and her baby.
Mercy Hospital is excited to welcome two new staff members to the team, Midwife Ann-Marie Waltina Allen and Laundress Aminata Turay.
Mercy's new midwife, Ann-Marie Waltina Allen, has fourteen years of nursing experience. Ann-Marie was a State Enrolled Community Health Nurse (SECHN) before becoming a State Certified Midwife (SCM.) She recently moved to Bo to care for her bed-ridden mother-in-law because no other family was able to take care of her. Ann-Marie says she chose to work at Mercy because of the hospital's reputation. “I have heard about Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and of course I also worked for Mercy Ships so the name was very interesting to me," she says. "I also know it's an organization that cares for people in a godly way so I was interested to work there for that mission. Ann-Marie is really looking forward to opportunities for growth at Mercy. "I am so excited to be here at Mercy. I like having a job and keeping busy. I want to improve myself in the long run!"
Aminata Turay has been hired as a laundress, an essential position at Mercy. "My job is important because without clean sheets the hospital would not be nice," Aminata says proudly. "It would be very smelly and the sickness would be a problem." She is grateful for the opportunity to work at Mercy. "I like my job because they help me and my family. I tell God thank you and I am glad that I am able to do this job. They treat me very well, like family, and I don’t have a problem."
By Missioner and Occupational Therapist Karen Roeming. Karen was a member of the July 2018 mission team and coached Mercy nurse James how to mold thermoplastic splints for Abubakkar.
Abubakkar is standing taller!
Abubakkar continues to progress and he is standing straighter and taller. He is even gaining some weight. As you might remember, Abubakkar was burned over two thirds of his body in December, 2016. He was brought to Mercy Hospital in March, 2017 where he continues to receive care. After being enrolled in the Child Rescue Centre, Abubakkar and his brothers were all able to return to school in September, 2017. Abubakkar passed his class five tests in June, 2018 and promoted to class six.
Abubakkar has been living at home with his family but still comes to Mercy every other day before or after school for wound care and dressing changes. The wounds on the backs of his legs are healing nicely requiring less care. As his wounds heal, the normal skin is replaced with scar tissue that will continue to shorten and contract limiting the ability to straighten his knees and put his heals down on the ground. This scar is less amenable to stretch as he grows compared to his normal skin.
Abubakkar’s goal is to be able to run and play football again. To help stretch that scar and allow Abubakkar to stand taller, his nurse, James, used a sheet of low temperature thermoplastic material softened in heated water to mold directly to his legs. The plastic cools and holds its shape so Abubakkar can be gently stretching his knees and scars while he is sleeping. This is not the most comfortable way to sleep but Abubakkar is standing taller and having fun playing with his friends during the day.
Five-year-old Jerome was desperately sick when his mother brought him to Mercy suffering from a range of symptoms including severe anemia, high fever, vomiting and coughing. The Mercy staff diagnosed Jerome with malaria and an acute respiratory infection and he was admitted for treatment. After three days of intensive care and a blood transfusion for anemia, Jerome was stable enough to go home.
His mother was so happy to learn that the treatment was entirely free, as the family had no money to pay, and effusively thanked the staff for their kindness and compassion. “I am very grateful for the services given to my son. I want to thank the CHO and nurses that helped him when he was sick.”
65-year old Mamie Moijuel was coughing up blood when her family brought her to Mercy for treatment. Mamie was diagnosed with tuberculoid leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by bacteria that is endemic in poor rural areas of Africa. Tuberculoid leprosy is a mild, less severe and less contagious form of leprosy acquired through close contact.
Mamie was put on a regimen of strong antibiotics to treat her illness. The antibiotic treatment took several months, but she now tests negative for TB and her condition has improved markedly. Mamie says, “I thank God for the Mercy staff. They know how to talk to patients nicely and to make you feel better even when you are very sick. They are helping people a lot."
Mercy Hospital recently celebrated the birth of identical twin girls. The twins' mom, Katiatu Turay, was a regular in the prenatal program and gave birth to her last child at Mercy as well. In fact, these girls are her 8th and 9th children!
Katiatu was grateful to the Mercy staff for assisting a safe delivery. Giving birth to twins can be challenging, but thanks to the Mercy maternity department, both mother and babies are happy and healthy. Katiatu and her visiting family members gave thanks to God and the Mercy team for their new additions.
Theresa Pillar is a 35-year-old blind woman who came to Mercy because she was having difficulty breastfeeding. She and her husband, who is also blind, were so happy to have a baby together, but were distressed when breastfeeding became difficult and painful for the mother. They are extremely poor and cannot afford to provide formula for their baby. Mercy provided the mother with medication to relieve her symptoms and educated her on proper breastfeeding methods, at no cost to the family. Now, the baby is able to breastfeed properly.
“I am feeling so overwhelmed about all that has been done for me at Mercy," Theresa says. "We are very pleased by the help we got from Mercy.”
Ten-month-old Isata Sandy, a twin, was referred to Mercy Hospital by the outreach team for an acute respiratory infection. Isata and her twin sister had recently graduated from the nutrition program when they reached a healthy weight. After treatment at the hospital, Isata made a full recovery.
Her mother, Isata Sandy, expressed her thanks for Mercy's care of her baby. “I am very grateful for Mercy Hospital for treating my child. Mercy Hospital nurses are very nice and treated us very well.”
Pharmacy technician Samuel Sankoh is the newest member of the Mercy Hospital team.
In commemoration of World Pharmacy Day, please welcome the newest member of the Mercy Hospital family, Samuel Sankoh, who is a trained and qualified pharmacy technician. Samuel began working at Mercy at the beginning of September. He is excited about the opportunity to contribute to Mercy Hospital’s mission to provide the community with excellent and compassionate medical care.
The work of pharmacists is vital in Sierra Leone, Samuel says. “Pharmacists are really rare in Sierra Leone. We really do not have enough. I would encourage people to consider studying to be a pharmacist or encouraging their children to become one. They are really important. Pharmacists make sure that patients are receiving the correct medications. They have knowledge about how to prevent resistance to drugs, especially antibiotics.”
On World Pharmacy Day, let's appreciate those who have chosen this important work.