U.S. pediatrician reflects on visit to hospital in Sierra Leone

Today I got my first look at the EMERGENCY hospital in Goderich, Sierra Leone.  I have been to at least a dozen healthcare facilities throughout Africa, and I can honestly say that I have never seen one quite like this before. It is superbly run, and does so much with so few resources.

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Upon first impression, entering the hospital was like walking into an ant colony.  At first, all you see is motion– national and international staff moving from patient to patient, and ward to ward.  And then as you watch longer, it becomes clear that it is a highly organized system, where each person is in communication with others, and working as a team to meet the same goal; providing the highest quality care possible.

To be sure, the needs are immense and overwhelming.  I spent much of the day in the pediatric department.  The inpatient unit has room for 14 children. The beds are always full, with another child waiting for admission.  The children on the ward were suffering from severe malaria, pneumonia, dehydration and other illnesses. A team of medical staff attended to each child, while his or her doting mother remained at the bedside.

Each morning 100 to 150 children are brought in to the hospital by their worried mothers, grandmothers, and fathers.  They wait patiently to receive care for their children.  All care is provided entirely free of charge. This morning a mother brought her 4-year-old child to EMERGENCY because he had a fever.  As his mother carried him into the examination room, he began to seize.  His body jerked and twitched for 2 or 3 breathtaking minutes, as the diazepam used to break his seizure began to work. He, too, suffered from severe malaria, and was admitted for life-saving care.

Lara Jacobson, MD

Goderich, Sierra Leone

Board of Directors – EMERGENCY USA

 

EMERGENCY is recruiting experienced pediatricians to work at our hospital in Sierra Leone as well as at our other locations, click here to learn more and apply.

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