New outpatient clinic to open at Ganta in Liberia
May 30, 2006
A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*
A new outpatient clinic for United Methodist-related Ganta Hospital in Liberia
is expected to open by the end of June.
That was a highlight in a report of activities
at the hospital from January to April, prepared by Mary Zigbuo, a missionary
with the United
of Global Ministries and the hospital’s administrator.
The new construction began in February and was financed through a $100,000
donation from First United Methodist Church in Peoria, Ill.
A similar pledge is expected by the end of the year, according to United Methodist
Bishop John Innis of Liberia. When received, another building will be constructed.
The total project cost is estimated at $1.1 million, and more donations are
The current hospital building eventually will
house primary health care and the School of Nursing. The hospital’s
Primary Health Care Building, burned in 2003 during civil unrest, is still
in need of renovation
the report said.
A new building complex for the eye clinic, sponsored by Christian Blind Mission,
opened in April. Ganta Hospital continues to receive ongoing support from the
mission and the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Operation Classroom,
United Methodists in Germany and the United Methodist Liberia Annual Conference,
according to Zigbuo.
A recent UMCOR grant, for example, allows the
hospital staff to have e-mail access via satellite. “This is a first for Ganta, and we are excited
about it,” Zigbuo said in an e-mail. “Now, we will be able to communicate
in a timely manner with all partners.”
Currently operating on three shifts, with a staff
of 144, Ganta continues to improve its service units — eye clinic,
primary health care, prenatal clinic, laboratory and pharmacy, according
to the report.
The dental clinic
still needs improvement. The hospital raises enough income to pay all workers
except its three doctors, who are paid with external funds.
Through the Mercy Ship program, Albert Willicor,
chief medical officer, received training to perform the corrective surgical
vesico-vaginal fistula, a medical condition related to childbirth that can
leave a woman incontinent for life. Ganta is now able to provide the VVF surgeries
at an affordable cost.
“Women with this condition are relegated to a life of rejection,” the
report noted. “In their village setting, they are our modern day ?Lepers.’”
Ronda Cordill, a volunteer nurse from the United
Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference, continues to assist with the hospital’s diabetes management
program. Because blood glucose monitoring equipment and supplies aren’t
readily available, such readings usually occur at hospitals.
Insulin, when it can be found, is very expensive. “Because of the price,
and due to poverty, people in village settings who are privileged to obtain
a vial of insulin sometimes take lesser quantities than prescribed because
they want to make a vial that should last for one month last for two months,” Zigbuo
pointed out. “They are aware that this practice places their life at
risk, but they are unable to do otherwise.”
Cordill is trying to help the hospital purchase
insulin at a low price in the United States and other countries. With donated
equipment and supplies, the hospital’s primary health care department
was able to teach selected patients how to perform blood glucose testing for
themselves and others in their village.
Tom and Susan Fell, an anesthesiologist and nurse team from the state of Washington,
spent six weeks volunteering at the hospital. Dr. Fell trained three nurse
anesthetists, two from Ganta and one from another rural hospital, and Nurse
Fell assisted the hospital in organizing its medical supplies and equipment
storage areas. She also helped organize the move into the newly constructed
Ganta’s School of Nursing is expected to
reopen in September for the 2006-07 school year. For now, the school will
meet in its
buildings and other temporary facilities.
Ganta Hospital has the only X-ray machine in northeastern
Liberia, but still needs an X-ray technician to run it. Volunteers are welcome
to assist with
that and other staffing needs — surgeons, nurses, lab technologists,
and phlebotomists. Non-medical volunteers are needed to do training in accounting,
office management and warehouse management.
In addition, the hospital is looking for a volunteer general practitioner
willing to spend a year assisting in the outpatient clinic and teaching new
skills to the staff, Zigbuo reported. A volunteer surgeon also is needed for
an extended period of time to do training and serve as a relief doctor so the
regular staff can take a vacation.
Other needs include two new vehicles for administrative work, health care
outreach and transporting staff between shifts, a blood chemistry machine and
a large auto clave for the sterilization of medical supplies.
More information about partnerships and opportunities with Ganta Hospital
is available by contacting Cherian Thomas, an executive with UMCOR/Health and
Welfare of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He can be reached
A number of donation opportunities exist, including contributions to the
following Advance funds: Ganta Hospital Emergency Fuel, No. 09214A; Ganta
Hospital Emergency Support, No. 10010T; and Hospital Revitalization, UMCOR
Advance No. 982168.