The Phebe referral hospital in Suakoko, Bong County central Liberia is in dire need of help to secure laboratory equipment and drugs to improve its health service delivery, the Administration of the hospital has declared.
Dr. Jefferson Sibley, medical director of Phebe, told reporters that the hospital is short of laboratory equipment and drugs.
Dr. Sibley made the disclosure at the hospital on Friday, when he received a donation of 10 hospital beds with mattresses and 20 beddings from the management of the National Port Authority (NPA) to be used specifically for the hospital’s Isolation Ward.
“We have problem with our diagnostic unit,” said Dr. Sibley. However the hospital was successful in acquiring a brand new digital X-Ray machine, he said, adding that as a referral hospital certain standards must be met.
He further revealed that Phebe is also short of drugs due to lack of funds as well as the unavailability of the type of drugs needed from the National Drugs Service and private suppliers.
Another necessity for which the hospital needs financial and material support is the construction of a morgue so that the mortuary can be separated from the main hospital building.
The cost of the laboratory equipment needed is about US$65,000.
Phebe is one of many hospitals hardest hit by the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD). The hospital lost five healthcare workers and two drivers to the virus, officials said. The Hospital’s Board Chair Mr. Tonorlah Varpilah said Phebe needs about US$1.2 million for Ebola preparedness.
The Ebola crisis had sent scores of health workers and doctors fleeing from Phebe Hospital, but it took the hospital administration and the Lutheran Church in Liberia to broker an agreement with the health workers for their return to work.
An amount of over US$30,000 was provided as risk pay for the health workers before they agreed to return a few weeks ago. The Management of NPA provided about US$5,000 of the benefit amount.
Dr. Sibley confirmed that most of the nurses and doctors have returned, but noted however, that most patients are still afraid to come to the hospital for treatment because of fear of being infected by Ebola.
“We don’t treat Ebola patients here in the hospital proper. What we have here are patients who are suffering from other sicknesses,” he said. “But most of the people are still afraid to come to the hospital because of the Ebola fear.”
Our reporter toured the hospital’s facility including the patients’ wards and observed less than 10 patients in the entire 300 bed hospital. The entire hospital courtyard was deserted signaling the level of fear people now harbor for being infected by Ebola.
“We are aware of the very important role Phebe is playing in saving the lives of our people” said NPA Managing Director Madam Matilda W. Parker as she presented the hospital beds and beddings.
The NPA boss, who was accompanied to Gbarnga by NPA Board Chair Mr. Tornolah Varpilah and several others including Dock Workers Union of Liberia Madam Jackie N. Doe, thanked the hospital Administration for reopening Phebe Hospital.
“Phebe Hospital,” she said “is very crucial to the survival of the population in Bong County and other counties adjacent.”
The NPA Managing Direct gave credit for the delivery of the beds to NPA workers who cleaned them and bought the beddings. She praised the NPA workers for their innovation and thoughtfulness in getting the beds and beddings ready.
For his part, Bong County Health Officer Dr. Samson K. Arzoaquoi expressed his delight and profound gratitude to the NPA Family for their support.
“I know the brain behind this donation is NPA and Phebe [Board Chair] Mr. Tornolah Varpilah. He has been very innovative in making sure that this hospital keeps running and saving the lives of our people,” said Dr. Arzoaquoi.
Dr. Arzoaquoi also commended Chairman Varpilah for working diligently with the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia D. Jensen Seyenkulo to generate more support for the smooth running of Phebe Hospital
Also thanking NPA was the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia D. Jensen Seyenkulo who said that the donation by NPA Management demonstrates that there is nothing Liberians cannot do especially when they do it together.
In a separate interview with our reporter, Bishop Seyenkulo called on the public not be afraid of going to Phebe for treatment. “We are prepared to deal with other illnesses,” said Bishop Seyenkulo. “But patients are still approaching the hospital with skepticism and fear because nobody wants to contract Ebola.”