Part of our patient flow management system is a facility ashore that we set up and can use to house patients who do not need medical care. Sometimes our patients come from a great distance, but there is no place for them to stay locally before we admit them as surgical patients. Additionally, sometimes we need to do some pre or post operative care which does not require patients to stay in one of our wards onboard. To facilitate this, we set up what we call our H.O.P.E. Centre. H.O.P.E stands for Hospital Outpatient Extension – Centre.
A week ago Friday we had an opening ceremony for our HOPE Centre for our Togo field service. This is an interesting success story. The government had a clinic here that they needed additional funds to finish. We needed our HOPE Centre. So we agreed together that we would finish it, use it until the ship leaves and then turn it over to the Ministry of Health to continue to serve its people. The last time the ship was here in 2010 we completed two wings of this medical complex. We installed the roof, painted, finished the electrics, drilled a well and added air conditioning. It served us wonderfully and after departure the Ministry of Health continue to operate the facility as a maternity unit. I have been told that over a thousand babies have now been born there. This is a substantial increase of services to what is one of the poorer areas of Lome.
This year on our return visit we have completed two more wings of this facility. In our ceremony the Minister of Health, a local traditional ruler and myself gave speeches. We also had a mini press conference. Afterwards, we toured the new facilities which are all set to go to start to receive our first patients. I am not sure when we leave what this new addition will be used for, but it gives me great satisfaction to know that it will not only help us provide free surgeries to Togolese when we are here, but also serve for years to come after we leave.
If you look up and down the west coast of Africa, you will find a number of facilities like this that have been ‘planted’ and are continuing to be used even to this day. If we are going to increase the level of healthcare in the region, these kinds of initiatives based in partnership are absolutely critical.
It has been another full, but fulfilling week.