The dedication last Saturday of the new, ultra-modern ELWA Hospital is by far the most important development on Liberia’s health and medical landscape since the deadly Ebola virus terrorized us two and a half years ago. Perhaps that is what made it compelling: that both President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai were in attendance at the dedication.
Flown in especially for the occasion was the Rev. Franklin Graham, the new hospital’s chief financial backer, whose powerful international humanitarian organization, Samaritan Purse, was responsible for both the vision of the new modern hospital and also for the mobilization of the financial resources to make it happen.
Rev. Graham, son of the eminent world evangelist, Dr. Billy Graham, thanked President Sirleaf and the Liberian government, especially the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), and the Ministries of Finance and Health for the important roles they played in helping to bring in all the equipment and supplies that contributed to the timely completion of the hospital.
Finance Minister Boima Kamara and Health Minister Bernice Dahn were present at the dedication ceremonies. So were Senator Dr. Peter Coleman, Chairman of the Health and Medical Committee of the Liberian Senate, Attorney General Frederick Cherue, General Services Agency Director General Mary Broh and Monrovia City Mayor Clara Doe Mvogo.
Dr. Jerry Brown, ELWA Hospital’s Medical Director, expressing confidence in its medical and scientific capacity, declared that Liberians and other residents will no longer have to travel to Ghana, South Africa, Europe or America for every urgent health or medical problem.
“We have the diagnostic and medical capacity to treat most of Liberia’s medical problems,” he declared.
Indeed, one of the hospital’s senior medical personnel, speaking of its modern laboratory facilities, told the Daily Observer during the tour that followed the dedication, “What took us over one and a half hours to do in the past, now takes us three minutes to complete.”
What a staggering contrast to the tragic inadequacies of Liberia’s leading health and medical referral facility, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK), whose laboratory has been down for so long that patients have had to be referred to outside facilities, including Dr. Taylor Neal’s Poly Clinic, for lab analysis and diagnosis.
Few know why. For few years ago the JFK boasted of state of the art laboratory facilities donated by the Egyptian government. But ah, Liberia, where the JFK itself, the then ultra-modern medical facility donated to Liberia in 1961 through the generosity of President John F. Kennedy, has been allowed to deteriorate to such a low state.
Today, and even over the past 10 years, some of our most senior political leaders, including the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Dr. E.B. McClain, have had to be flown to South Africa and elsewhere abroad for specialized medical attention. It was there that he unfortunately died. So did the legendary political and church strategist, Willis Knuckles who, after he took critically ill in July 2014, had to leave the same JFK for Ghana, where he died.
The point is that we in Liberia know how to build; we also know how to receive massive foreign aid of all kinds.
But— and this is a very big but—the maintenance. We know how to build, but to maintain is an entirely different matter!
We, however, pray and trust that Dr. Jerry Brown will keep his promise to maintain the new ELWA hospital and ever improve upon it so that it will forever remain a magnificent facility, ready to respond to any health or medical situation.
One of the most admirable and encouraging features that delighted the President, Vice President and the entire audience on Saturday was the revelation that the entire highly impressive modern complex was designed and built by a wholly Liberian-owned firm, C.J. Construction Inc., headed by Mr. James Johnson, Senior Managing Partner.
In his historical overview of the project, Samaritan Purse’s Country Director Kendell Kauffeldt disclosed that the choice of C.J. Construction to do the work was due to Rev. Franklin Graham’s insistence “that the contract be awarded to a Liberian firm.”
We extend exceeding thanks and appreciation to Rev. Graham for this vote of confidence in Liberian ability. We thank God for Rev. Graham, and pray that others in authority, especially in Liberia, will always render similar encouragement to our contractors.
We further urge all Liberian contractors to execute faithfully and diligently all contracts that come their way, following the example of C.J. Construction Inc.