Foday Koroma Jr. (12 months) is enrolled in Mercy Hospital’s Nutrition Program, and has been receiving Pikinmix (a healthy meal supplement) when Mercy’s Outreach team comes to his village each month.
On a recent trip, the Outreach staff discovered that Foday had a runny nose, cough, and headache. Mercy Outreach staff were able to quickly diagnose and treat him for an acute respiratory infection.
According to his mother, Florence, “I am very happy with the medication. I really saw great improvement. I am impressed with Mercy and the free treatment.
The CRC Promise Scholarship program provides post-secondary students the opportunity to either attend a university, or purse a program in technical or vocational schools. One Promise Scholar, Taingay Karteh has used this opportunity to successfully complete a program in catering and hotel management from St. Mary’s Technical Vocational Centre.
Tiangay first came into the CRC programs as a student in JSS2. Upon graduation from Senior Secondary school, she took the extremely difficult entrance exam that is the gatekeeper between Senior Secondary School and university called the WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination), but was unable to earn a score to enable her to enroll in a university program.
Through career counseling provided by CRC Guidance Counselor Princess Kawa, Taingay was encouraged to pursue a path in either catering or hair dressing, and she selected a program in catering. With support from the CRC Promise Scholarship program, Tiangay succeed in earning her certificate in catering.
“My aim is to establish my own business within the township of Bo,” Tiangay says. “Without the guidance of the CRC staff and their support, this would not be possible."
Mercy Hospital celebrated its eleventh birthday in October. Mercy Administrator Jinnah Lahai spoke to the staff at a small ceremony commemorating the event. “We want to take some time today to celebrate Mercy. We are no longer children. Mercy has been here for eleven good years of quality health service delivery. We have all worked very hard to make this hospital one of the best. We should be very proud of ourselves. I want to especially thank those staff who have been with Mercy from the very beginning. You have made Mercy what it is today.”
Matron Sister Augusta Kpanabaum echoed these thoughts, saying, “Today, we thank God for Mercy Hospital. It has saved so many lives. We pray that the good work continues and that we all do our level best to make Mercy better and better.”
The ceremony was held in Mercy’s new patient waiting area, built as part of the construction project that included a new wing housing two new operating theatres.
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.
The Child Rescue Centre provides more than health and education support to children; they help families too. CRC staff offer workshops for parents of children in its programs as well. Recently, this has included the addition of a six module training package and workshops on attachment theory, designed to help foster parents and those recently reunified with their own CRC children learn how to understand attachment in order to build and nurture healthy attachments with their children.
The six attachment theory training modules were created by the University of Maine Honors College students and faculty, working together with a wide range of professional associates in collaboration with Patty Morell. Extensive research, fact finding, and exchange of study data was drawn upon to create this workshop product. CRC staff contributed by making culturally appropriate revisions and suggestions to graphics, imagery, verbiage, and activities contained in the training.
According to CRC Case Manager Deborah Kanneh, the first two training sessions using modules one and two have been very well-received. “It has helped parents to create a healthy relationship and a strong bond with their children. The most useful lesson they learned during the first workshop was the use of the three T’s,” Deborah said. “This means they should talk with their children everyday telling them how much they love them, to touch their children by holding their hands, and also make time for them.”
Parents attending the workshops share that they’ve learned how important it is for children to be attached to their parents so that they can be more secure and comfortable around their caregivers and know that their needs will be met. “A child who has gone through trauma in his or her life needs more encouragement from me,” said one mother.
“I’ve learned that children will like to repeat positive behaviors if you speak compliments to them,” shared another.
“A child that has experienced trauma can be aggressive towards their fellow children,” shared another participant. “We have to understand the source of trauma in our children before we react.”
Participants have requested that a component of the attachment training be included in every monthly meeting they attend at the CRC, and that the CRC hold sessions that include the children as well. They’ve also requested materials they can share with other parents in the community. As one participant said, “love and attention are really important in families.”
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.