Today is our second full day in Monrovia, Liberia. (Click here to see images.) We are the guests in the President of Liberia’s beautiful guesthouse, graciously arranged by Dr. Jennie Bernard, sister of the President and mother of Estrada Bernard, a KBNF neurosurgeon. Drs. Jocelyne Lapointe (neuroradiology), Paul King (neurosurgeon), and David Udoh (neurosurgeon) and his wife Mojisola (pathologist) and young son are all in the house. Dr. John Sampson (neuro-anesthesiologist, intensivist) is arriving from Sierra Leone today, and the rest of the Nigerian neurosurgery team will be arriving shortly as well.
The staff are very caring and energetic. Emmanual, the “waiter” and intermediary for all needs, is a precious Christian man. He is married with three children of 9, 7, and 1.5 years old. His method of staying alive during the civil war was to travel to the other end of the country, escaping death, time and time again. He helped me play scrabble last night, and I learned that he was a college graduate years ago and desired to become a mechanic. Because of the war and marriage, he was unable to fulfill that dream. He now has new dreams for his future. His experience with Heads of State is quite impressive, and he shared that he knows I “love people just like the President’s son.” The other staff are also very caring and making sure we are fully satisfied with our lovely accommodation and delicious food. The cleanliness and décor are also very impressive. I’ve given them raspberry syrup to enjoy. It comes from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. They were going to put it on pancakes.
We toured the JFK maternity hospital yesterday. What an eye opener that was. The two-floor fully self-contained facility was built by the Japanese and opened in 2010. The Japanese provided nursing consultants to help the Liberians in planning the facility. What an amazing job they all did; the most impressive example of a hospital functioning in optimal contemporary standards for the limited resources that they have.
The walls are vastly clothed in tiles of various soft colours and the paint is of various colours and soft fonts. This facility appears very well organized and very clean. The emergency department through the multi-patient labour and delivery rooms, the emergency operating room to the postoperative rooms (a 2-hour standard stay) and recovery rooms are quite thrilling to see. Following their admission to the ward, they remain for 24 hours, and then are discharged. If they have a C-section, they stay for four days, and then are discharged.
When a patient arrives for delivery and/or maternity care, they are received and fully treated immediately, regardless of funds. It is the mandate of the hospital, that no patient is turned away. They employ North American trained social workers, and these members of the team work with the families to arrange payment a couple of days later. If the patient and/or family absolutely do not have the resources, the hospital absorbs the costs and the patient is promptly discharged home.
The admissions desk is stationed near the medical records office. This office houses recent charts, and then these charts are relocated to a warehouse for storage. Their charts are kept in folders and they have a set method of chart documentation. I was interested to see that the doctor’s orders are automated at the outset, and then personalized orders written subsequently. Doctor’s history notes are vastly blank, as they share they have little time to chart. Nurses’ notes are quite evident.