A visit by Resurge directors Martyn Webster and Catherine Liao to the project at the Holy Spirit Hospital (HSH), Makeni, Sierra Leone assessed the impact of the Ebola crisis on the HSH, where a reconstructive surgery training programme was started in 2009.  Although the Ebola crisis in Western Africa has received world wide attention, 18 months since the outbreak started, Sierra
Ebola screening – A wall now completely surrounds the HSH. On either side of the main entrance are placed Triage units.  There is a strict Triage system force for anyone entering the hospital – and if there is any suspicion they are either sent home or placed in quarantine.

The New Maternity Unit has been completed and looks very impressive – it is hoped that the first patient will be admitted there in November 2015.

Mr Webster and Catherine met with HSH Medical director (and Resurge director) Dr Patrick Turay and Father Natalio (chairman of the Board of Governors of the Holy spirit Hospital) to talk about the new Central Sterile Supply Department (CSSD), storage facilities and if possible a classroom where instruction sessions could be held for the staff.  It is proposed to build this up to the back perimeter wall of the hospital, where if would fit in neatly once a small incinerator unit has been moved elsewhere.

Training – In conversation with Dr Turay, it is clear that in order to have an environment that allows the working of a reconstructive surgery service to it’s full potential, further investment in the human resources of the Holy Spirit Hospital is highly desirable.  More qualified nurses are needed.  It is anticipated that as well as the three nurses currently studying for their SRN qualification in Bo, a further five will be required to bring the establishment up to strength.  A Pharmacist, two Physiotherapists and a Radiographer are also required.  Candidates for the Radiographer and Pharmacist have been identified.

The problems of Anaesthesia was discussed with Paediatric Surgeon Dr Aiah Lebbie.  There is only one nurse anaesthetist, who is available for the Holy Spirit Hospital.  He also works for the Government hospital.  When he is not present or unwell, there is no available replacement, so any surgical list has to be cancelled.  This is a serious situation.  It is recommended that, in addition to Dr Mohamed Kargbo, who, supported by Resurge has now started his anaesthetic training in Coimbatore India, we should train another doctor as Anaesthesiologist.  Dr Lebbie is looking to identify a possible candidate – training him in Ghana is a possibility and it is strongly recommended that this training should begin as soon as possible.  Dr Eric Wongo, presently being trained in Ghana is due to return to Makeni in two years and Dr Abdulai Jalloh two years after that.  It is imperative that they should have good anaesthetic services provided.  It may be necessary to train some nurse anaesthetists to act as a stop-gap until the anaesthesiologists are ready.

During the Ebola Crisis an understandable pressure has been put onto the Holy Spirit Hospital and its amazing, hard working staff.  Due to the Virus and its devastating effect on the country, surgical missions were cancelled and the operating theatre used by visiting surgical teams has not been used for 18 months – subsequently there has been a struggle to maintain equipment etc.  However as the situation settles, plans are being put in place to send a ReSurge team to HSH in January 2016, ahead of a surgical team, in order to assist staff in the organisation of this theatre and the other smaller working theatre, and to assess any equipment that may be faulty or need replacing.  Staff support and training is a priority and plans have been discussed to send new nurse, Anthony Sesay and Matron Anne Marie Koroma to the Korle-Bu training Hospital in Ghana for training and to observe how the Korle-Bu theatre set up works.  This will be a very valuable experience for Mr Sesay and Matron.

The staff and community at Holy Spirit have been through unimaginable hardship during this dire time and have emerged the other side. Much support is needed to rebuild the service and move forwards.

Resurge Africa are determined and committed to continue in our efforts to create a sustainable Reconstructive Surgery and Burns Service in Sierra Leone, ready for when the first Sierra Leonean reconstructive surgeon returns from training in Ghana to take up his post in 2017.