The new facility will provide Liberians with a place for stellar health care
With the deadly Ebola virus finally declining in Liberia, Samaritan’s Purse is resuming construction of a much-needed hospital near Monrovia.
A recommencement ceremony of the Samaritan’s Purse Liberia hospital project in partnership with ELWA Hospital and Serving in Mission (SIM) took place at the construction site on April 15.
The program opened with a prayer, and then Gentry Taylor, a leadership team member from the Samaritan’s Purse office in Liberia, gave an overview of the project.
Bev Kauffeldt addressed the guests gathered at the hospital, including Liberia Vice President Joseph Boakai. Kauffeldt has worked in Liberia for 11 years with her husband, Kendell, the Samaritan’s Purse country director, and was appointed to the Ebola task force at the beginning of the outbreak.
“[It’s] a hospital that will serve Liberians, and a place for health workers to be trained and hone their skills to serve and care for their fellow Liberians,” she said. “I saw firsthand how Ebola stole from us some of Liberia’s finest health workers. It is my prayer that young Liberians will see these health workers as heroes and be inspired to become future doctors and nurses at this hospital. I pray that Jesus would be present in every room, bringing healing physically and spiritually to those in need.”
A representative of the government then spoke, followed by Joe Wonkollie from SIM and Vice President Boakai. He focused on the commitment of Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia.Samaritan’s Purse was working on construction at ELWA Hospital before the Ebola outbreak began in March 2014. During the height of the outbreak, we concentrated all our resources on fighting the deadly disease. We combatted infection rates by providing hygiene training along with prevention education and control kits to affected communities. More than 9,500 people have been infected with the disease, and 4,301 have died.
“When I told the President that SP was building a new hospital she said, ‘Are you sure they haven’t bitten of more than they can chew?’ But I told her this organization is different,” Vice President Boakai said. “The government has seen that you are committed, determined and you provide a holistic approach that others don’t.”
The hospital project is among several programs that had to be stopped during the outbreak that Samaritan’s Purse is now able to resume. We also will be able to implement new programs. These include Ebola recovery programs, focusing on the areas of protection, social mobilization through leadership training, nutrition, and health, along with the hospital construction.
“I think it will just not just be meeting the physical needs of those that enter the hospital but the spiritual, and that’s the encouragement,” said Dorothy Blie, the acting Samaritan’s Purse country director.
The hospital construction will include a pediatric ward, an emergency room, and an operating room with multiple theaters and will create capacity for 80 beds, doubling the current space. It will be one of the biggest hospitals in Liberia.“The opportunity to show Liberians that they can build to a high standard and have quality work [is what excites me],” said James Johnson, the ELWA Hospital construction manager. “The type of construction for a hospital is difficult [with] the different codes and specifics, but we can show people that it can be done even here in Liberia.”
Samaritan’s Purse also will be providing medical equipment, some refurbished and some new as well as some necessary medical furnishings. There is also a commitment to have at least one maybe two WMM post res doctors working in the new hospital.
Vice President Boakai explained that Ebola was a wake-up call for the country’s health care system. It showed the government what Liberia was lacking to care for its people and brought society to a halt. With construction of the hospital beginning again, there is hope that the country’s health infrastructure will be able to handle future problems.
“Samaritan’s Purse is committed to Liberia,” Kauffeldt said. “Our mandate is to reach those who are hard to reach, to go where no one else can or will go, for it is in these areas that the needs are the greatest both physically and spiritually.”