On November 3rd, we received the devastating news that a fire at the Holy Spirit Catholic Hospital in Makeni totally destroyed the Molecular Biology & Immunology Laboratory, Physiotherapy Unit and Drug Store. Luckily, there were no fatalities and many of the other structures, such as; the main hospital and the recently constructed maternity ward, were not touched by the fire.
But the loss, in particular of the Molecular Biology & Immunology Lab, is a great setback to efforts to strengthen the healthcare system following the Ebola epidemic.
Hospital Grows From Small Beginning
Since its inception as a one room clinic in 2002, under Dr. Patrick Turay’s direction, Holy Spirit Catholic Hospital has grown to 70 beds and is a model and groundbreaking private hospital in Sierra Leone. Describing his approach, Dr. Turay notes, “Every day, we try to make things just a little better for the people here. That’s the key — always improving; always moving forward.”
The Molecular Biology and Immunology Laboratory was one of Dr. Turays’ visions in moving forward and creating a better future for those in Sierra Leone. The Ebola virus that infected 14,000 and took nearly 4,000 lives in Sierra Leone, laid bare the healthcare systems inability to properly diagnose deadly viruses. Makeni, where Holy Spirit is located, was one of the “hotspots” for the virus.
Hospital Key In Fight Against Ebola
Understanding that properly identifying the Ebola virus was a key component to defeating the epidemic, Dr. Turay worked with partners in constructing needed structures and acquiring equipment to establish the Laboratory at Holy Spirit. As a result , reports credit this Laboratory, which opened in early 2015, with saving 100,000 lives through improved diagnosis.
But this Laboratory was also important to improving and protecting the health of future generations. With all the necessary equipment to be able to diagnosis emerging viruses and ongoing viruses such as HIV and hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus, the Laboratory was a critical component in efforts to strengthen the healthcare system in Sierra Leone.
In the months ahead we will be working with Holy Spirit Hospital to help them rebuild these needed capabilities.