The St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital, which was rocked by the Ebola crisis, officially reopened yesterday after about three months of closure, restricting its health care delivery to pregnant women and children.
The Acting Administrator of the Roman Catholic-run institution, Dr. Bernard I. Benda, told newsmen yesterday that the hospital opened its doors with only eight beds for inpatients in the maternity ward, amidst their assessment of the health crisis in the fight of the world’s deadliest virus, Ebola.
Dr. Benda said the remaining 16-bed capacity and the pediatric ward will be opened to its full pre-Ebola capacity over a period of time, details of which will be subsequently announced, along with the relevant fees and procedures that may be required.
“A skeletal staff has been put into place, and maybe after a while of assurance of support, the hospital may return to its status quo in continuous service to the Liberian people and all those who are need of health care,” Dr. Benda said.
Pundits believed the reopening of the Catholic Hospital was because of an appeal from the Liberian Government to treat common illnesses and in exchange of logistical and financial support.
It may be recalled that the St. Joseph Catholic Hospital shut its doors in July when a total of nine staff, including four missionaries and five Liberians, died.
They included Rev. Fr. Miguel Pajares, Rev. Bro. Patrick Nshamdze, Rev. Br. George Combey and Rev. Sr. Chantal Mutuameme.
Others were Layson Wilson, Mrs. Tetee Dogba, Ms. Lanrene Togba, Mr. Dominic Wesseh and Mr. Richard Kellie.
However, the reopening of the St. Joseph Hospital to treat only pregnant women has made the hospital to join the ELWA Hospital in Paynesville and other health centers amidst fear of the lack of support from the government as it relates to Personal Protective Equipment and other logistics.
In its official statement on the reopening of the hospital, the Catholic Archdiocese highlighted key points in the Hospital’s existence in Liberia:
In 1956, President William V.S. Tubman solicited from Pope Pius XII that the Catholic Church establishes a hospital and medical school in Liberia.
Mrs. M. Eva Hilton generously donated 33 and a half acre plot of land to the Church through Pro-Nuncio Francis Carroll for said purpose.
On January 24, 1967, President Tubman inaugurated the Catholic Hospital.
During the Liberian civil war, according to the Church, St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital was the only functioning hospital in Monrovia, which at a given time was temporarily closed, although the hospital remained open in spite of many challenges.
However, the Hospital experienced its worst tragedy in recent times and was forced to close its doors to the public in July this year. “We all know the raging impact of what is referred to as the Ebola virus,” the Church said.