Role played by Brothers of St. John of God through the St. John of God Catholic Hospital, Lunsar and St. John of God Community Health Centre, Lungi.
Since the discovery of the first positive case of Ebola virus patient in a small village in Kailahun on May 25th, 2014, the St. John of God Brothers had nothing to scare about at the onset because this village is a 1000km away from where the hospital of the Brothers is located in Lunsar and the health centre in Lungi.
It is very important for our benefactors and friends to understand that the Brothers of St. John of God worldwide has the duty never to abandon a population especially in times of need. I think that is why so many of you have the trust and confidence in donating the little you have from your small resources to assist us reach out to many. We trust in you and we shall continue to rely on your generous support.
Why I am saying this is because, you have been informed that on two occasions the St. John of God Catholic hospital ceased to provide services to the Public. The first time was as a result of several deaths of staff from the hospital that led the State to recommend quarantining the hospital which gave us the greatest opportunity to completely disinfect the hospital and replaced many infected equipment and materials, train our staff on Infection Prevention and Control measures, etc. This was from 18th August to 8th September, 2014. From 9th September, 2014 we opened the doors of the hospital to the General Public. This lasted for exactly 2 weeks when one of the Brothers of St. John of God, a medical doctor and veteran surgeon, key to the hospital got himself infected and eventually died in Spain. This sudden event scared us and made us shut down our doors again to the public realizing that there were some serious lapses in the hospital protocols especially during this period of outbreak. The lapses identified were no triage process and no standard Isolation unit to give care to Ebola suspects. So from September, 22nd, 2014 to date, the hospital ceased operations to the Public. However, during this period again, the hospital has not been silent, but for a period of two weeks, (1st October-15th October, 2014) the hospital organized an intensive 2 weeks training on Patient care management during an outbreak. This included training on screening and triaging of patients visiting the hospital.
The hospital for the meantime has embarked on an outreach programme to offer food and other basic needs to quarantine families, giving them health education and monitoring their physical health and administering basic medical malaria treatment when necessary. If need be, any suspect is identified, arrangements are made to transport the person to Port Loko for further management.
The photos below shows a shelter of a family that has been eradicated by Ebola virus. Just have a look at the type of materials and inside the house. The family used to sleep with animals. Look at one of the bed room, look at the mattress. This is similar to many families in the villages. What a pity for these poor families.
During this period also, the hospital embarked on negotiations with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to provide logistics to the area and create a standard Ebola suspect care unit for the area. The hospital released a piece of area with a Building already for this facility to be improved for that purpose. This could serve as a better zone to give care to suspects of Ebola infection. See photos below:
The Ministry of Health has also provided an Ambulance, 2 burial vehicles to the area which the hospital has access to.
The last zone to be prepared was the Triage zone for the hospital which is ongoing now before the re-opening of the Hospital. We are preparing to open to the General public by next week. Presently, at the district headquarter, Port Loko, a 100 bed (50 for Holding and 50 for treatment has reached completion to be managed by Red Cross). The British army are also engaged in the construction of another 100 bed treatment centre in Port Loko. They have started work now. In Lunsar vicinity, the International Medical Corps have started the construction of a 100 bed Ebola treatment centre. It is expected to be completed by the end of November, 2014.
Indeed, I am happy to say that the relevant structures which are expected to be in place will be in place by the end of November, 2014. There is great hope now. So far, the temporal holding centre at the Port Loko Government hospital, which has been giving care to patients suspected and confirmed before referral have been doing a great job. So far, 38 confirmed Ebola patients from Marampa chiefdom sent to that centre have recovered from Ebola through the basic care provided to them. The hospital is partnering with other groups to meet these Ebola Survivors on 1st November, 2014.
Based upon the progress of work on Ebola centres(Holding and treatment) within the district, the centre in the St. John of God Hospital has been identified as one with better facilities and much supported and needed by the hospital. Work has been completed, it is left with furnishing with chairs, tables, cupboards. The Hospital has provided beds with mattresses, water and electricity. Staffing will be provided by the Local community and supervised by World Health Organisation(WHO) for short time and later handed over to the Hospital. This led his Excellency, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone to paid a courtesy visit on site to see the state of the holding centre in the hospital. During his visit, he expressed satisfaction and pledge to support the hospital with the Cuban Medical Doctors to assist in the screening of patients. See photos below of WHO staff on inspection of site.
The phot below shows the president chatting with Br. Michael, the hospital Manager, alongside diuring his visit.
The hospital has just siorganized an engagement session with all the traditional leaders in the 146 villages in Marampa chiefdom to motivate them in joining the fight to eradicate ebola within the community.