KRB Update #2168 HOPECenter
Keith R. Brinkman Sierra Leone June 23, 2011
Greetings from Sierra Leone, West Africa. When Mercy Ships arrives in a country, potential patient screenings are organized at various locations (in the port city and upcountry) and dates throughout the country. For Sierra Leone, the upcountry screenings were done in January by a team of ten at five provincial governmental hospitals – Koidu, Kenema, Bo, Makeni and Kabala. Patients who are near the port area can easily travel to the ship; others that live farther away typically have greater travel obstacles, which hinder their ability to travel to the ship and they may be ones with greater needs. To help alleviate our crunch with ward beds and to care for those from outside the port city, Mercy Ships developed the HOPE Center concept to provide housing for patients and caregivers (usually for those patients 15 years of age or younger) in a secure location near the ship. This was started during our field service in Cotonou, Benin in ’09.
Pre-operative patients typically arrive at the HOPECenter a couple days prior to surgery. While at the Center, patients and caregiver are provided with nutritious meals, strengthening the patient for the upcoming surgery. Both have their own mattress and are protected by mosquito nets to prevent malaria. After the patient has transferred to the ship, they will have their surgery on the ship and their time of recovery in the Hospital wards. There comes the time when the intensive, around the clock care, is not always needed. It is at this time for those who live far away, they can move to the nearby HOPECenter. Importantly, the Center frees up precious bed space in the hospital ward on the ship. In the past, many individuals requiring outpatient care had to stay in the ward because it was not possible for them to travel to and from the ship and home. If a bed is being used by a patient requiring minimal care, that bed is unavailable for a new surgical candidate.
In Sierra Leone, our amazing Advance Team was able to secure a portion of the Seafarer’s Club, located next to the port, to use as the HOPECenter. Renovations were made and now the Center has a capacity of 40 patient beds and 40 caregiver beds – though we have purchased extra 20 mattresses as sometimes our numbers have been closer to 100 at the Center. Some of our crew coordinate the activities there along with a great group of local dayvolunteers. We offer Community Health teaching on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays afternoons on various subjects.
I greatly appreciate at how close the HOPE Center is located as it gives me the opportunity to take the 10 minute walk – just out the gate, up the hill a bit and then to the right into the compound. I go regularly if not daily and visit with some of the patients that I have established relationships with while they have been on the ship in the Hospital. We talk and visit together, see how they are, play games, break up little fights with the boys, sing and just deepen relationship together. If, I took the time to list the various ones and about their lives and circumstances, this update would be way too long. I have connected well with many of our patients from Koidu which is in the district of Kono and far from Freetown. While visiting those that I know, I have met others who are yet to come to the ship for their surgery. With them, I share that “I will see you when you are on board”.
Prayer Requests: ** Health (not just physical, but also emotional and spiritual health) for our patients at the HOPECenter as they recover and prepare to return to their homes. ** For the surgeons we need as we have weeks without a general surgeon – and we have many patients on waiting lists.
Mail: Keith R. Brinkman, Mercy Ships,P.O. Box 2020, Lindale, TX 75771USA
Schedule: Sierra Leone Field Service February 27 – December 8, 2011