If it’s broke…fix it

August 2020

There were early mornings, long days, and many kilometers covered. However at the end of the two-week biomedical repair and assessment visit last November by the TRIMEDX Foundation, plans were already being made to return to Sierra Leone.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 50-80 percent of medical equipment in low-income countries is not in working order. A top request from the health facilities we support is assistance in repairing medical equipment. Thanks to the TRIMEDX Foundation, whose mission is to address the international need for medical equipment repair and support, we were able to begin meeting this need.

Repair and assessments conducted

Working with the Christian Health Network of Sierra Leone (CHASL), ten facilities were visited. Four facilities were in the western area and the remaining six in the northern and southern provinces. The TRIMEDX Foundation team of three biomedical engineers was led by Sierra Leone native Moses Baryoh. Facility visits consisted of repair and assessments of non-working equipment and an inventory of all working equipment.  A total of 334 pieces of equipment were inventoried, 140 assessed or repaired and 40 identified for follow-up.

Florence Bull, Health Coordinator at CHASL, said of the visit, “We want to express our gratitude for the tremendous sacrifice and input you’ve made to improve service delivery in our facilities.”

In addition to repairing and assessing the equipment, the TRIMEDX Foundation team provides training during the site visits.  Noted Mr. Baryoh, “TRIMEDX Foundation commits to provide as much training as we can during our site visits. We want to leave skills behind like basic preventative maintenance practices and trouble shooting of frequently used equipment such as oxygen concentrators, autoclaves, patient monitors and blood pressure machines.”

TRIMEDX Foundation Tradition

Few individuals in Sierra Leone have training in biomedical equipment repair, however, at each facility all were eager to learn. David Mattia at Serabu Hospital was one such individual who impressed the team. Working at Serabu since 2009 David was ready for the teams’ arrival. He reviewed all the issues with the non-working equipment.

Man in room with tools in front of him
David Mattia

Throughout the day David and the TRIMEDX Foundation team worked on the equipment and conducted inventory. A TRIMEDX Foundation tradition is to leave behind a tool box. David was the recipient. He was very appreciative and said, “I will try very hard to make very good use of it.”

Due to the coronavirus, biomedical technician visits have been postponed in 2020. As soon as it is safe to travel, we will welcome TRIMEDX Foundation back to Sierra Leone. Facility managers are already asking, “when will the maintenance team visit us?”

Many thanks to TRIMEDX Foundation and your partnership in helping us strengthen the health system in Sierra Leone.

St. Mary’s Clinic – Healthcare close to home…

July 2020

The community of Moriba Town, Sierra Leone is located in a beautiful, rural setting but far from services, especially healthcare.  Approximately 160 miles south of Freetown, nearly 12,000 people call Moriba Town home.

HealeyIRF is committed to supporting facilities in remote areas of Sierra Leone where healthcare services for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women and young children, are desperately needed.

The district where St. Mary’s is located, Moyamba, has a life expectancy at birth of slightly over 44 years. The national average is 55.5 years.  It also has one of the highest under-5 mortality rates in the country. 

Clinic forced to close during war

a collage photo with the top photo a picture of the clinic which is painted yellow and brown. The bottom left photo is graffiti left by rebels and the bottom right is a photo of bullet holes in the wall

St. Mary’s Clinic opened its doors in Moriba Town in 1986.  During the civil war (1992-2002), the facility was taken over by rebels and vandalized. It was forced to close.  Bullet holes and graffiti were still visible on the clinic walls, when HealeyIRF did a clinic assessment in 2012.

The clinic reopened in 2007. HealeyIRF supports St. Mary’s Clinic with medicines and supplies. Without the clinic, access to healthcare in the area is extremely difficult. The closest hospital is nearly 35 miles away over challenging roads. During the rainy season these roads can become almost impassable.

Mary Gbandi, a resident, said, “I am happy that we have a clinic in our neighborhood and thank HealeyIRF for their support.”

Deliveries this year to the clinic include gloves, masks and other items to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.  In addition, medical supplies such as bandages, sutures, lancets and biomedical waste disposal cans were sent to St. Mary’s.

Medicines & Supplies Delivered

Helping improve health outcomes in Moriba Town for under-5s and pregnant women is a key component of HealeyIRF’s healthcare focus.  Treating children with diarrhea and respiratory infection is critical and antibiotics are given to the Clinic.  Also, many children in the community suffer from parasitic worms. Through our partnership with Vitamin Angels we are able to supply the clinic with albendazole to get rid of these infestations.  This partnership provides pregnant women with multivitamins helping them maintain their health and have a greater chance of delivering a healthy baby.

“This community is very near to my heart,” stated Health Administrator Sister Josephine Amara. “I am from this district and am well aware of the struggles of people to access quality healthcare services. We will continue supporting St. Mary’s Clinic as it will help improve the health of so many in need.”

Christ the King Hospital – Happy Three Year Anniversary

June 2020

Waterloo Kissi Town Community is the site of a refugee camp that operated during Sierra Leone’s civil war (1991-2002).  It is also one of the fastest growing areas outside of Freetown.

Services for the population, especially health care services for the poor and vulnerable, were needed.

In early 2017, an opportunity arose for Caritas Freetown to acquire a building complex at Waterloo from Missionary Friends. But equipment, medicines, medical supplies and staff were needed in order to get the facility running.  Getting support would take time, but Father Peter Konteh, Executive Director of Caritas Freetown, knew waiting was not an option for those needing help.

“We do not choose where we are called to serve, but when called we must move forward even in uncertainty,” noted Father Peter.  “Pregnant women, children and those with chronic illnesses desperately needed health care services.”

Christ the King Opens

Christ the King Hospital in Waterloo, Sierra Leone opened its doors in June 2017.  Within a short-time the need for services was obvious. In December over 800 monthly patient visits were recorded, up from 427 from the first full month of operation in July.

Under the direction of Sister Josephine Amara, the facility has flourished with a focus on ensuring the community receives quality health care.

“Each year our patient visits increase, with 9,190 in 2018 and 9,311 in 2019,” said Sister Josephine. “We are very proud that the community has chosen to trust us with their care and three years have gone by so fast! We are looking forward to the future and providing additional services.”

Under-5 population reached

Of particular importance is that 63% of the outpatient population since the opening of Christ the King are children under-5. Sierra Leone has one of the highest under-5 mortality rates in the world and it is critical that this vulnerable population has access to health care. Life-saving child immunization services are offered at Christ the King. In 2019 nearly 3,000 under-5 immunization doses were administered.

HealeyIRF supports Christ the King Hospital with medicines, supplies and equipment. We want to take this opportunity to congratulate Caritas Freetown on the three-year anniversary of Christ the King Hospital.  They are truly meeting the needs for those in need.

Fr. Dan Smiling Down

June 2020

Father Daniel Sullivan, HealeyIRF’s first Executive Director, had a dream after visiting Sierra Leone – to help the village of Newton build a clinic to provide critical healthcare services to vulnerable families.  Father Dan raised the needed funds but died suddenly in 2013. 

His dream, however, was realized in 2015 with the construction of the clinic in Newton. A recent story from the clinic staff reminds us that Father Dan is ever present and certainly smiling down on those working and receiving care at the Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Clinic

In Sierra Leone the need for maternal care is overwhelming.  It has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with 1 in 17 women in Sierra Leone likely to die from childbirth and its complications. 

In late March, 28-year old Aminata came to the Sullivan Clinic for a routine antenatal visit.  This was her second pregnancy. She had delivered successfully in 2017 at the clinic.  On this visit she had high-blood pressure and was diagnosed with preeclampsia. The staff followed establish protocols to manage her condition. 

Swift Action by Clinic Staff

Unfortunately, she later returned to the clinic with more severe symptoms. Referring her to the maternity hospital in Freetown, about an hour away, the staff called for an ambulance. With the rise of COVID-19, however, ambulance service was spotty. It was unclear when the ambulance might arrive.

Describing what happened next, Community Health Officer Manjia said, “Instead of sitting and waiting for the ambulance to come as we were not sure when it will really come, we were forced to carry out the delivery. We did whatever we could to save Aminata’s life such as opening an IV line to support the delivery. The delivery was successful. Mother and child were safe. She and the baby spent the night in the facility.”

Tenki!

Aminata returned with her husband to the clinic for her postnatal exam. They expressed their profound and sincere thanks to the facility for the life-saving service Aminata had received. “I was closer to the grave as I felt my one foot was at the grave and the other was in the world. Your prompt decision saved my life and that of my baby,” said Aminata.

As a way of expressing appreciation to the clinic, they brought a large pineapple for the staff.

The staff at Monsignor Daniel Sullivan Clinic receive training to handle emergencies, such as this. But, it doesn’t hurt to have Father Dan smiling down.

After Disaster: Fostering Sustainable Outcomes in Sierra Leone Through Partnerships

Written by Desmond Jones

Together with the Partnership for Humanity, the Healey International Relief Foundation (HealeyIRF) continues to support survivors of flooding disasters and the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, alongside Tzu Chi, Lanyi, and Caritas. These survivors comprise of children orphaned by the eighteen-month long Ebola outbreak and the various floods, as well as survivors who are currently battling ill-health conditions as a result of both the epidemic and the natural disasters.

In recent years, Sierra Leone has experienced increasingly heavy rains that have caused devastating floods. According to eye witness accounts, the flooding disasters brought overwhelming destruction to already vulnerable communities. Many sustained injuries, some lost family members, while others were left homeless. Mabinty Kanu, a resident of Moyiba Town, Freetown, expressed appreciation to the Partnership for Humanity for the rice, clothes, and blankets supplied to her and other flood victims.

Although the Ebola outbreak was five years ago, affected families lost their breadwinners. Those who have survived are currently suffering from a range of medical complications. The Partnership for Humanity has continued to serve these communities throughout the years.

During a distribution of items to Ebola survivors, the President of the Sierra Leone Ebola Survivors Association, Yusuf Kabba, remarked how HealeyIRF and the Partnership for Humanity have continued to fulfill their promise to them by continuously distributing rice and other needed items to survivors.

To support sustainable development for these impoverished communities in Sierra Leone, HealeyIRF and the Partnership have established a relationship with Home Leone’s Destiny Village, located on the outskirts of Freetown in Newton. The Home Leone Foundation works to relocate inhabitants of disaster-prone areas to the Village, located in a much safer environment. HealeyIRF, together with its partners, visited the village this year to follow up on the success of a previous distribution and to further facilitate interactions of love between the families and over twenty-five Tzu Chi, Lanyi, Caritas, and HealeyIRF staff and volunteers. During the visit, items were distributed to pupils of the Destiny Academy, a school established in the Village for relocated children. After the interaction, a certificate of appreciation was presented to the Healey International Relief Foundation.