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.”


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.

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